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Swain’s Lane explosion: Companies fined for failings which led to 2017 death of Stephen Hampton in Highgate

PUBLISHED: 15:00 20 February 2020

Flowers left for Stephen Hampton who died following a blast in Swain's Lane. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

Flowers left for Stephen Hampton who died following a blast in Swain's Lane. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

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Two contractors have been fined over the explosion which killed Stephen Hampton, 54, on a Swain’s Lane building site in 2017.

A man has died in an explosion in Swain's Lane (Pic: Sarah Lawrence)A man has died in an explosion in Swain's Lane (Pic: Sarah Lawrence)

P J Labour Services Ltd, based in Colindale, and Bedfordshire firm Materials Movement Ltd have been told to pay £33,000 each, plus more than £7,000 costs by magistrates after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found both had failed to "take adequate action to protect the health and safety of persons working on their site".

Both firms pleaded guilty to breaching construction regulations at Westminster Magistrates' Court earlier this month.

The court heard how, on 16 March 2017, Mr Hampton was working at the site in Highgate when an old fuel storage tank he was cutting up exploded and the end of the vessel struck him causing fatal injuries.

The HSE said "the standards for this type of work are well known, established and clear" and found both companies in breach of the law.

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Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Ian Shearring said: "Mr Hampton had recently adopted two young boys and this incident leaves them, along with his wife, alone and struggling financially all for the sake of a bit more effort on both defendant's parts.

"Both Materials Movement Ltd and P J Labour Services Ltd have been held to account for killing Mr Hampton after failing to take adequate action to protect the health and safety of persons working on their site.

Neither company adequately assessed and controlled the risks of this highly dangerous work. It was left to the workers to devise their own methods of working, which was compounded by no site management."

Mr Hampton, who was survived by a wife and children, had been working on the former petrol station which is now part of the Swain's Lane parade redevelopment.

At an inquest in March 2019, a jury gave a narrative verdict, finding that "risks were not highlighted, which led to an inadequate risk assessment and method statement" and this had led to Mr Hampton's death.

At the same time, the jury also found, after nearly two weeks of evidence,it was also unclear who was responsible for safe working processes on the site.

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