Construction company failed to provide information on gas pipe during demolition work… A construction company has been prosecuted after a gas leak in Liverpool city centre provoked fears of an explosion and led to disruption across the city.
Demolition work inside a building which used to be a department store on 19 January 2012 caused damage to a gas supply pipe and required the evacuation of hundreds of people working in the vicinity of the building.
The construction firm was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation revealed that they had contracted the demolition firm to destroy the building without warning them about the live gas supply inside.
Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard that the construction project on Ranelagh Street was contracted to the construction company as part of a multi-million-pound project to convert the building into shops, offices and a new hotel. However during the demolition phase of the project, a gas supply pipe was damaged by falling debris, creating a two-inch hole in the pipe, and allowing the gas to escape. The emergency services were contacted to close off the area, and local businesses and shops as well as the train station had to be closed temporarily.
The construction company was found guilty of two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 relating to failures to protect both their own employees and members of the public and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £8,490 in prosecution costs.
HSE Inspector Catherine Willars spoke after the hearing:
“The gas supply pipe could clearly be seen entering the service duct from the street but the construction company failed to take any action to disconnect it, protect it from falling rubble or to warn the demolition firm of the dangers.
“A single spark could have set alight the leaking gas and caused a major explosion in the city centre, with the potential to put dozens of lives at risk.
“Luckily the emergency services’ response worked effectively and they were able to prevent an explosion but the incident caused significant disruption and hit the income of local businesses.
“The construction company was the principal contractor on a major refurbishment project but its safety standards fell way below the legal minimum on this occasion.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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