Sparks from welding work ignited nearby gas mains leading to 20 foot flames…
Two companies have been prosecuted after a large fire in Leeds caused six homes to be evacuated, gas supplies to be cut off and a major roadway to be temporarily closed.
A local gas company and an infrastructure firm were charged with breaching safety regulations after they failed to implement safety protocols while installing gas mains at a site on a ring road in Beeston.
As a result of the various safety failings, a 20-foot high blaze caused nearby homes to be evacuated as emergency services were called in to prevent the flames from spreading further.
The subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the gas work at the construction site had not been isolated causing sparks from the welding process to ignite the gas into dangerous flames.
Leeds Crown Court was told that the sub-contractors hired to carry out the work didn’t have the expertise to do everything that was asked of them while the planning of the project was not up to standard, and the necessary safety controls were not in evidence at the site.
Both companies pleaded guilty to a single offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the gas company was fined £35,000 in addition to £8,g53 in prosecution costs with the infrastructure company facing a fine of £50,000 with £12,900 in costs.
HSE Inspector Ian Redshaw spoke after the hearing:
“Someone could have been killed or badly injured in this incident. Thankfully no one was hurt, but this was a severe fire that was a danger to workers and local people.
“There were numerous failings by both companies in the planning, organisation and execution of the work – most importantly the failure to consider and control the risks associated with welding near live gas mains.
“When undertaking high hazard activities such as this, it is essential that the proper steps are taken to ensure that risks are fully considered and then controlled.
“This type of activity is regularly undertaken in the gas industry and all the safety practices are well established and common knowledge in the industry. Thankfully incidents are rare, but if they do occur the consequences can be devastating.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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