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DEMOLITION CONTRACTOR CREATED EXPLOSION RISK

Failure to isolate gas and electrical services lands demo firm in court

Demolition company, Kane Haulage Ltd of St Albans in Hertfordshire, has been fined following a dangerous occurrence involving the release of over half a tonne of gas. The firm also carried out work while electricity supplies to the buildings undergoing demolition remained live.

The offences occurred at Oldfield Trading Estate in Sutton during preparation work for construction of a new self storage facility. Some work had been undertaken by the utility companies to disconnect the electricity and gas supplies but the process was not complete. Meters had been removed but the electricity and gas supplies up to the meters remained live.

City of London Magistrates Court heard that EDF engineers were called to the site on a number of occasions between May and July 2009 as a result of damage to live cables. Kane Haulage were warned by EDF not to continue with work until all the electricity supplies were disconnected.

Demolition work continued, despite the warning, and EDF made a complaint to HSE when it was again called to the site on 15 September 2009.

Live pipes bent over and tied with wire or duct tape

On the 13 September 2009 a nearby resident reported the smell of gas and the source was traced to the demolition site. Some 20 severed live gas pipes were found with the pipe ‘bent over and tied with wire or duct tape’. The pipes released gas at full pressure when they were untied. Steel pipes had been filled with mud which had dried out and cracked allowing gas to escape.

Kane Haulage Ltd of St Albans, Hertfordshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined a total of £11,700 and ordered to pay costs of £6,936.50

Speaking after the prosecution, HSE Inspector Loraine Charles said:

“It is almost miraculous that there were no injuries, given the level of risk generated by the unsafe way in which Kane Haulage Ltd carried out this demolition in relation to the live electricity and gas services.

Despite repeated warnings that both gas and electricity supplies to and through the site remained live, Kane Haulage proceeded with demolition works, thus exposing workers on the site, residents of the surrounding properties and users of the busy A217 dual carriageway bordering the site to very serious risks.”

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