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MoD agency criticised over blast-test death

MoD agency criticised over blast-test death

A Government agency has been censured after a scientist died as a result of an accident he was involved in while conducting classified tests.

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) accepted the censure completed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Government chemist Terry Jupp's death.

Mr Jupp, of Hertfordshire, was amongst a number of Dstl staff members working on the tests on explosive compounds at Shoeburyness, an establishment owned by MOD and operated by QinetiQ Ltd, when a mixture ignited. He received 85% burns in the resulting explosion and died in hospital the next week.

Chief executive of Dstl, Dr Frances Saunders appeared at the Crown Censure meeting on February 18 and accepted the findings of the investigation on behalf of the agency and the MOD.

By accepting the censure, Dstl has formally acknowledged there were health and safety failings, such as inadequate or poorly followed risk assessments when the possibility of explosion or ignition were clearly foreseeable. Mr Jupp and colleagues were not protected by a screen or personal protective equipment. Inadequacies were also highlighted in dynamic risk assessment and communication issues were shown to have impeded safety procedures.

Dstl is part of the MOD and as such cannot face prosecution from the Health and Safety Executive in the same way as non-Government bodies. Crown Censures are agreed procedures applicable to crown employers, including the MOD, in lieu of HSE criminal proceedings.

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