An Aberdeen based catering supply company has been fined after three people were seriously injured in a gas explosion in a hotel kitchen in Auchenblae.

Instant Catering Maintenance (ICM) was undertaking work to install a new groundfloor kitchen to contain propane fulled appliances - a hotplate range, four ring hob and a free standing chargrill.

An explosion occurred during the work causing serious inujuries to Danielle Ormond, a barmaid at the hotel, ICM employee Neil Coffield and customer James Guthrie.

The court heard that ICM designed and installed a steel manifold to supply propane gas to appliances. However, it was not fitted with an adequate facility to allow for safe purging of the system, which would have prevented gas build-up to dangerous levels.

The damage caused by the blast led to an emergency demolition order by Aberdeenshire Council.

HSE inspectors found that a regulator supplied with the chargrill had not been fitted and the regulators on the hotplate and hob were found to have been attached the wrong way round and set for natural gas rather than propane.

ICM of Union Street, Aberdeen, was fined £7,500 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

After sentencing, HSE principal inspector Niall Miller said:

“This was an entirely avoidable, very serious incident resulting in significant injuries to three people and the demolition of a building.

“The risks of purging an LPG gas system without using the appropriate equipment are well known and it is clearly stated in industry guidance that flare stacks should be used when dealing with gases heavier than air, such as propane. In addition, purging a system of this type should be carried out by two people to ensure safety."