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LPG FUELED FIREBALL ENGULFED WORKMAN IN EXCAVATION

Contractor prosecuted after excavator stuck LPG pipe triggering explosion

A builder has been prosecuted after a workman was badly burned in a gas explosion at a football training ground. Labourer Stephen Rowley, 43, suffered burns to his face, neck and both arms on 18 September 2009.

Mr Rowley was using a power tool in a trench to remove damaged pipework from a septic when an excavator used during the work struck an underground pipe containing liquid petroleum gas (LPG).

Sparks from the power tool ignited the leaking gas creating a fireball in the trench. Mr Rowley’s clothes caught fire and he had to struggle out of the trench and roll in the grass to extinguish the flames. The court heard that Mr Leonard left the workers unsupervised when the gas pipe was struck.

Workman could have died in the gas explosion

HSE investigators found that Mr Leonard had failed to consider that gas pipework might be present, and did not ensure the gas supply was isolated before starting work. He also failed to provide trench supports and there was no safe means of access in and out of the trench.

Paul Leonard was found guilty of a breach of the CDM Regulations 2007 after he failed to plan, manage and monitor the construction work safely. He was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay £3,500 in prosecution costs on 4 November 2011 following a trial at Macclesfield Magistrates’ Court.

Speaking after the hearing, the investigating inspector at HSE, Catherine Willars, said:

“Stephen Rowley could easily have been killed in the gas explosion. Luckily he has now been able to return to work, following lengthy treatment as a result of his injuries.

He should never have been told to carry out work in a trench without proper safety precautions being put in place. He was working near a tank containing liquid petroleum gas, which was likely to have underground gas supply pipes.

What made it worse was that Mr Rowley had to struggle out of the badly-supported trench by himself to put out the flames, as Paul Leonard was not present when the explosion occurred.”

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One Response to “LPG FUELED FIREBALL ENGULFED WORKMAN IN EXCAVATION”

  1. HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 11th JANUARY 2012 | PP Construction Safety News Desk Says:

    […] Paul Leonard – unsafe excavation work and explosion: £2,500; […]