On 7 January 2010, BOC Ltd employee Alan Garton, was filling an acetylene cylinder at their Dissolved Acetylene Filling Plant in Brislington, when the solution in the cylinder became unstable and exploded. The subsequent fire was allowed to burn for eight days before the Avon Fire & Rescue Service determined that it was safe to extinguish. Mr Garton, who was an experienced employee and was performing his duties properly when the incident occurred, sustained life changing injuries including multiple lacerations and significant burns and two other employees were also injured.
The incident caused the cancellation of rail services to and from Bristol Temple Meads and roads within a 200m radius of the site were also closed for safety reasons, as was the Avon Meads shopping centre. In light of the extent of the damage, which destroyed the equipment in the vicinity, the precise cause of the explosion was impossible to determine.
BOC Ltd faced two charges – breach of s.2(1) HSWA and breach of Regulation 4 of the Control and Major Accident Hazard Regulations 1999 (every operator shall take all measures necessary to prevent major accidents and limit their consequences to persons and the environment). The company pleaded guilty to the s.2(1) HSWA charge and no evidence was offered in relation to the second charge. BOC Ltd were fined £175,000 and ordered to pay costs of £85,000 in addition.