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Gas fire blast causes eye injury

Inept repair work to a gas fire caused an explosion in which a father of two was blinded in one eye.

Householder Peter Cox was asked by qualified gas engineer Simon Challis to use the fire’s remote control to ignite it following the repair. The engineer was not sure how to use the remote control.

The fire exploded when the device was activated, and Mr Cox was hit in the face, suffering a severely damaged eye.

Debris was sent across the lounge and minor injuries were also caused to the gas fitter.

Mr Cox’s wife and his two children were not present in the room at the time of the incident and were not hurt.

Mr Cox, a 37-year-old local shop owner of North Lane, Cayton, Scarborough, was taken to hospital and has since had five operations on his eye to stabilise the damage and attempt to restore his sight.

Scarborough Magistrates’ Court was told by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that the explosion was caused because Mr Challis wrongly connected the pipes when changing a gas valve on the fire.

The error led to gas building up within the fire so as soon as Mr Cox attempted to ignite it, the appliance exploded.

Mr Challis, of Greenlands Road, Pickering, North Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to take reasonable care of himself and others while at work at the property in March 2010.

He was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,071 in costs.