LPG distributor Calor Gas has welcomed the prosecution of a semi-retired engineer who sold more than 700 potentially dangerous adaptors to members of the public, enabling LPG cylinders to be filled at petrol station forecourts.
Alan Middleton, 60, of Barnoldswick Road, Higherford, pleaded guilty to an offence under the Pressure Equipment Regulations 1999 at Preston Magistrates Court on 30 October.
He was repeatedly contacted and asked to desist the adapters’ sale over a thirteen-year period, however, despite agreeing to comply, it was discovered the adapters were back on sale in April 2012.
Middleton admitted designing an unsafe product, not providing adequate instructions for the adapter’s use and not including markings identifying himself as the manufacturer.
The safe filling of LPG cylinders requires appropriate expertise and equipment, and should only be undertaken by trained personnel on the cylinder-owning company’s premises, Calor Gas has warned. They should never be filled at petrol stations and, for safety reasons, only filled to 80% capacity.
Health & Safety Executive scientist, John Hodges, concluded that the devices were hazardous and likely to cause leaks.
This prosecution follows a spate of activity in which similar adaptors are sold on sites such as eBay, encouraging customers to refill cylinders on petrol station forecourts. Earlier this year, one such incident at Rossendale in Lancashire caused a dangerous fire that led to one man being seriously burned.
Paul Blacklock, head of strategy & corporate affairs, Calor Gas said: “We welcome this successful prosecution and thank the Health & Safety Executive for its robust action. The vast majority of petrol stations display notices which outlaw this sort of activity. Apart from the obvious dangers, if an accident of this nature takes place on a forecourt, the site operator could be liable for prosecution.”
Middleton was committed to Preston Crown Court for sentencing on 3 December.
Pictured: Specialist automated equipment ensures the safe filling of Calor cylinders, by specially trained personnel under close scrutiny from the Health & Safety Executive.