£1M Fine After Engineer Trapped In Gas Cloud

£1M Fine After Engineer Trapped In Gas Cloud

National Grid Gas (Plc) has been fined £1m after a worker became trapped in a ruptured gas main.

The company was supervising repairs to a gas main on 24 June 2014 when a worker was trapped between two gas pipes after one of them burst, breaking his femur.

He was part of a team trying to repair a reported leak on Ashby Road, Scunthorpe, when the pressure behind the escaping gas increased and ruptured the pipeline.

Footage of the incident shows how the fire service had zero visibility as they worked for an hour to rescue the trapped engineer, as the escaping gas was creating a cloud of dust and debris around the excavation.

The fact the worker was wearing breathing apparatus undoubtedly saved his life.

Ashby Road was closed to traffic and local residents had to be evacuated for fear of an explosion while it took three hours to get the gas under control and pipe repaired.

Sheffield Crown Court was told of a number of failings by National Grid Gas (Plc) including not complying with its own gas escape procedures, not carrying out sufficient risk assessments, not communicating effectively with the contractors carrying out the work and not managing the handover of key personnel.

The company was fined £1 million and ordered to pay costs of £26,296.

HSE Inspector Ian Redshaw, said: “This incident could easily have become a fatality.

“National Grid Gas (Plc) failed to follow its own processes and carry out sufficient risk assessments to protect  workers and the sub-contractors fixing the leak.

“This whole incident should act as a stark warning to all those involved in hazardous work ”“ you can have all the written policies in place but it you do not follow them, if you do not carry out the risk assessments for the task, people could die.”

Group Manager Steve Fraser of Humberside Fire and Rescue Service said: “The priority when we arrived was the injured man, and getting him out of immediate danger.

“The visibility was virtually zero due to air being dense with gas and dust, and the man had been working 10 feet below ground.

“The crews put themselves in a position which showed courage and bravery of the highest order. They were dealing with gas of an unknown quantity with potential for another explosion.

“They used pneumatic bags to prise the pipes apart and release his legs, all done in demanding circumstances.”

 
BALFOUR FINED £1MILLION AFTER ROAD WORKER KILLED

Balfour Beatty has been fined £1m after a road worker was killed while repairing a damaged central reservation barrier.

Canterbury Crown Court heard how, on 1 October 2012, a team was sent out by Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Limited to install temporary traffic management in order to repair barriers on the A2.

The crew were trying to remove the footings of a post that had snapped off, using a lorry mounted crane.

The lorry mounted crane slipped from the concrete footing, and swung back towards the barrier, hitting the worker on the head.

Larry Newman,37, sustained severe head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Limited, of Canary Wharf, London, was fined a total of £1million, and ordered to pay £14,977 in costs after pleading guilty to safety offences.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Cousins said: “This was an entirely preventable incident that could have been averted by simply creating and implementing a safe system of work.

“If a suitably sized excavator had been used to remove the footing mechanically it would have prevented this tragic loss of life completely.

“Employers have a responsibility to create safe systems of work for hazardous activities that their workers may be undertaking.

“The workers should be trained in safe systems of working and adequately supervised. Safety needs to be proactively managed and not just left to chance”.

A Balfour Beatty spokesperson said: “Balfour Beatty has offered its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Larry Newman who was killed in this tragic incident.

“The safety of the public and our workforce is always our primary concern.

“Balfour Beatty has since taken appropriate corrective action to take the lessons learnt from this tragic incident and share them and improvements across our business.”
 

FINES FOR FATAL ACCIDENTS

A Cheshire construction company has been ordered to pay £397,500 in fines and costs following a fatal accident in 2011 at a site in Wilmslow.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Edgemere Projects Ltd of Tarporley, Cheshire, was the main contractor at the site when on 7 January 2011, Andrew Dytiche aged 23, sustained fatal crush injuries when a pack of bricks fell on him.

An HSE investigation found that the storage of materials was poorly organised and pallets used to store and move bricks around the site were also in poor condition.

Edgemere Projects Ltd pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £97,500 with £300,000 costs.

HSE Principal Inspector Neil Jamieson said: “This was a tragic accident which could have been prevented had the company ensured that materials on the site were stored and stacked safely”.
 

Whilst the responsibility for these accidents might be laid at the door of the contractors and Principal Contractor, this responsibility will spread because under the new CDM2015 Regulations the Client has a new duty to ensure that the PC is complying with PC duties, and the attention of a Client advisor is invaluable in these circumstances. KOK are acting as Client advisors  (CDMA) on works from measured term FM contracts to major Capital schemes so for help and advice or training call John Okey or one of our health and safety advisors on 01925 654158 or email john.okey@kok-surveyors.com