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    WATER MAIN LEAK CAUSED CHAOS IN LINCOLN STREET

    Incident highlights potential health and safety risk from water main leaks

    It has been reported by This is Lincolnshire that a water main leak on building site caused chaos in a Lincoln street when the pavement collapsed and undermined the stability of a nearby lampost. The incident occurred as ground was being excavated for the foundations on a small housing development.

    Senior Highways Manager Dave Underwood said:

    “We were called out by Anglian Water and we made an initial assessment of the area. It appears that while excavating the foundation level of the private development, the ground became unstable, collapsing the footpath and potentially part of the road. This was exacerbated when contact was made with a water pipe, which burst, washing away material and causing the lamppost to sink and lean.”

    Alex Martinelli, director at Acrom Construction Management Ltd, said work started at the site about two weeks ago.

    “There was a water leak and it undermined the path. The water board came out to fix it, but a lot of water had come out in the meantime. Apparently it was a big leak.”

    Comment

    The risk presented by underground services usually arises from electrical and gas supplies and resultant hazards of electrocution, burns, fire and explosion. Contact with water services rarely cause injury although the damage caused to property may be considerable. This incident is a reminder of the potential for injury directly or indirectly.

    The photograph on the right concerns an incident in the early 1990’s in which an underground “trenchless”  pipe-laying operation damaged a 30 inch pressurised water main. The subsequent leak caused massive damage to the road and flooded the area.

    A member of the public trapped in a car suffered a heart attack and died. The Coroner ruled that the incident combined with a pre-existing medical condition ’caused’ the death. HSE initiated prosecution of the contractors involved who were fined in the Crown Court. 

    This is a further reminder that proper planning to avoid underground services must always include water services. 

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