A long-serving gas incident investigation officer is celebrating after earning not one but two prestigious industry awards.
Steve Critchlow, from Buxton, has received two separate awards for his gas investigation work.
In both cases his work enabled the police to take forward manslaughter prosecutions, one from a gas explosion and one from a carbon monoxide death involving an oil boiler.
This year is the 40th Anniversary of the Health and Safety Executive – Britain’s regulator for health and safety in the workplace.
Steve is based at the Major Hazards Unit at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Buxton and has worked for the Science Directorate in HSE since 1991.
He says the variety of his work means he continues to reap enjoyment from the role.
Steve said: “I feel very honoured that people have been impressed with my work enough to give me these awards, although I would like to stress that in both cases I received great support from colleagues who made the jobs possible.
“Over the years I have had some fantastic colleagues and friends within HSE who have impressed me with their knowledge and professionalism. My work is extremely varied and takes me all over the UK.
“It’s this variety which makes the work interesting, and the positive outcomes which make it rewarding.”
Steve received a Divisional Commander’s Award for his outstanding work from Greater Manchester Police due to his work investigating a house fire. He said: “A large explosion ripped through a residential street in Oldham in June 2013 killing a two-year-old boy.
“Over 100 homes were evacuated, three houses were destroyed and many more badly damaged. I carried out a forensic examination at the scene and established that the source of the gas leak had been two deliberately cut pipes within one of the houses. I produced a detailed report which police later said had been crucial to the subsequent guilty plea of the defendant, who had been uncooperative up to that point.
“Andrew Partington was later sentenced to ten years for manslaughter.”
In recognition of the fact Steve’s report prompted a guilty plea from the defendant, GMP’s Divisional Commander at the time of the incident, Darren Shenton, said: “Steve’s skills, commitment, professionalism, personal pride and expertise resulted in work of the highest standard reflecting credit on himself and the Health and Safety Executive.”
Steve’s second award came following an incident at a house in Ipswich in December 2013 where the occupant’s family had found her dead. The lady, who was well known locally, had previously been in good health and active.
Steve said: “I made a 370-mile overnight journey from Truro (where I had been appearing in court) to Ipswich, stopping at an 24-hour supermarket to purchase some suitable clothing!
“I carried out a detailed on-site investigation which established huge amounts of carbon monoxide had spilled into the house, coming from an old oil fired warm air heater, following a collapse of the chimney lining.
“Following my on-site work, laboratory testing and written report, I continued to provide technical support to the police as their investigation progressed. In July 2014 I spent two weeks in Norwich Crown Court giving evidence in a manslaughter trial against the engineer who had maintained the oil heating system at the property.”
Steve was subsequently awarded a Crown Court Commendation by the trial judge, Justice Bate, which was presented to him in a ceremony by the Chief Constable of Suffolk.
Steve added: “Knowing that the work I do has helped bring people to justice for putting the lives of others at risk is very rewarding and makes me proud to work for HSE.”