Morgan Sindall in court over gas blast

Grant Prior 11 years ago
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Morgan Sindall has been fined for a serious blaze in Leeds that led to the evacuation of six homes, the closure of a major road and gas supplies being cut off.

Northern Gas Networks Operations (NGNO) and Morgan Sindall (Infrastructure) appeared at Leeds Crown Court after neglecting basic safety measures when a new section of gas mains needed to be installed during a major construction project on the Ring Road at Beeston.

The court heard that numerous safety failings by both companies resulted in welding work on a gas main sparking a fire that sent 20-foot flames into the sky.

Three workers had to flee to escape. Six homes had to be evacuated and fire crews used water jets to protect nearby properties.

The Brigade was on the scene for more than ten hours until the fire was under control and the ring road was closed for two days following the incident on 3 September 2010.

The court was told NGNO Ltd hired Morgan Sindall to divert the gas mains.

The work was being carried out to allow changes to the road layout and Morgan Sindall had subcontracted parts of the project to two other firms.

The work meant installing a new section of gas mains to the existing system, which required welding work to be carried out on the mains in an excavation.

The gas mains had not been adequately isolated and sparks from the hot welding work ignited the escaping gas.

HSE found the two sub-contractors were only competent in specific parts of the job and neither fully understood the overall work being carried out.

Both defendants failed to effectively plan the necessary work or provide the safety controls under which the work could be done.

Northern Gas Networks Operations was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay £8,453 in costs. Morgan Sindall (Infrastructure) was fined £50,000 with £12,900 in costs.

After sentencing, HSE Inspector Ian Redshaw said: “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.”

 

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