O’Rourke fined over hospital gas leak

Grant Prior 7 years ago

Laing O’Rourke has been fined for causing a major gas leak at a Staffordshire hospital.

The incident happened at the Royal Stoke University Hospital in January 2014 during work to create a new car park and install new drains.

An excavator struck a buried plastic gas pipe causing significant damage and a large release of gas.

The hospital declared a major incident and set up an exclusion zone around the pipe causing traffic chaos on surrounding roads.

Stafford Magistrates’ Court heard that the pipe fed an energy centre that provided 90% of the hospital’s heating.

Fortunately, the energy centre was duel fuel and engineers were able to quickly switch the heating supply to oil.

It took 90 minutes to stop the leak, during which time a significant quantity of gas was released into the atmosphere.

An HSE investigation found that O’Rourke had failed to implement a safe system of work and follow relevant guidance for safe digging when dealing with buried underground services.

HSE guidance states that the position of plastic (PE) gas pipes should be located by hand digging before mechanical excavation begins.

It also states that mechanical excavators should not be used within 500mm of a buried gas pipe.

Laing O’Rourke Construction Ltd, of  Dartford, Kent, was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,723 after pleading guilty to breaching CDM regulation.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Bowker said: “As a large, experienced construction company, Laing O’Rourke were well aware of the relevant guidance on dealing with underground services.

“On this occasion there was a general breakdown in the company’s comprehensive health and safety procedures for preventing such an incident.

“It failed to suitably plan and monitor the work; failed to hand dig trial holes to locate a known gas pipe; failed to have a suitable exclusion zone between the excavator and the pipe; and failed to use safe digging methods to expose the pipe.

“The result was a highly dangerous situation that had the potential to expose construction workers, hospital staff, patients and visitors to an initial explosion and subsequent fire.”

Latest news

W Stirland set for administration after nearly 100 years of trading

Family-run south coast firm has been building since 1928
3 hours ago

BAM UK delivers steady first half growth

UK profit up 16% to around £40m from revenue at £1bn
3 hours ago

Crane hirer M&M enters voluntary liquidation

Family-owned mobile crane ceases trading amid soaring costs and depressed hire rates
3 hours ago

£161m funding for Oxford Railway station revamp

Kier to deliver first project under the new Rail SPEED initiative
3 hours ago

VolkerFitzpatrick wins 240km wind farm cable job

Contractor lands connections deal from energy giant Ørsted
3 hours ago

Seddon Construction returns to profit

Plan to target more diverse work pays off as construction revenue rises 27% to £166m
3 hours ago

Faults found on giant HS2 green tunnel segments

"Quality issues" found on precast segments at HS2 site pioneering off-site construction
1 day ago

Balfour Beatty UK construction returns to profit

Group profits double to £82m in first six months after construction arm bounces back
1 day ago

Bidding starts for £4.5bn Southern Construction Framework

5th generation deal includes new £1m-£5m lot for south west
1 day ago

Persimmon expands output at off-site factories

Housing giant hits 31% profit margin with another £750m returned to shareholders
1 day ago

Modular specialist Algeco lands £31m MoD double

Construction to start this year on two new sets of army barracks
1 day ago

Hill gets go-ahead for North London estate rebuild

750 homes to be built at Douglas Bader Park estate in Colindale
2 days ago

Bid race for £210m Huddersfield town centre revamp

Kirklees Council's Cultural Heart scheme will be split into two major projects
2 days ago

£100m Darlington Station revamp enabling works start

Willmott Dixon set to deliver major station upgrade project
2 days ago

Demolition worker gets huge payout after losing leg

Compensation settlement will fund latest prosthetic limb technology for site victim
2 days ago

Plant hirer Vp abandons sale plan

Chairman Jeremy Pilkington says the plant hirer failed to find a suitable new owner.
2 days ago

Turner & Townsend on board for Sheffield Supertram upgrade

Consultant to help deliver programme over next seven years after £570m funding deal
2 days ago

Green light for new £33m Ipswich logistics park

Construction to start this October on latest Trebor Developments site
2 days ago

Piling starts on pioneering double composite HS2 viaduct

Wendover Dean Viaduct ‘double composite’ structure will halve carbon emissions
2 days ago

ISG pauses work on £300m gigaplant

Construction work rescheduled to reduce costs at giant car battery plant
3 days ago

Tory leadership battle delays bidding for HS2 phase 2a

Prequalification for £5.2bn-£7.2bn route to Crewe put back to September
3 days ago

Greswolde Construction goes under

Solihull contractor ceases trading with 24 jobs lost
6 days ago

Hanson on track for UK’s first net zero cement works

20 carbon capture projects shortlisted for £1bn funding
3 days ago

Plan in for Nottingham 967-room student scheme

Vita submits plan for second major purpose built student sh
3 days ago

Galliford Try gets go-ahead for next A47 dualling job

Early 2023 start for £200m section of A47 between North Tuddenham and Easton in Norfolk
3 days ago

Designs revealed for £1bn London Blackfriars tower blocks

Fosters design landmark green office skyscraper and two blocks of flats for Southwark site
6 days ago

Everton stadium job still on budget despite inflation

Club and Laing O'Rourke confident they can still build new ground for £500m
6 days ago

Construction output falls 1.4% halting 7-month growth spurt

Fresh output and orders figures confirm summer construction slowdown
6 days ago

McLaren gets green light for £85m build-to-rent scheme

Construction set to start this autumn on major city centre development
6 days ago

BAM limbers up for £25m Bedworth leisure centre

Pioneering Warwickshire health and fitness hub to start this autumn
6 days ago

Contractor services