National Grid Gas has been fined after an employee suffered serious leg injuries when gas was released at high pressure during maintenance work at Diss Compressor Station, Norfolk.
The worker, who does not wish to be named, was working on temporary pipework attached to a recompression unit, which suddenly released trapped gas at high pressure.
His right leg was fractured, requiring surgery and a steel plate to repair the damaged bone. He was in hospital for seven days and unable to return to work for several months.
Norwich Magistrates’ Court heard on Friday (15 Nov) that the main purpose of the recompression unit was to depressurise and isolate a feeder pipe so safe repairs could be completed at Stowmarket and Diss compressor stations. However, an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed a failure to follow Non-Routine Operation (NRO) procedure, together with a lack of proper planning and control resulting in an inadequate system of work for such a high risk procedure.
National Grid Gas Plc, registered at 1-3 The Strand, London, was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £9,846 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
After the case, HSE Inspector Duraid Alkazraji, said:
“Given the high pressure gas release which occurred during this maintenance work, this worker could easily have been more seriously injured.
“HSE’s investigation identified key issues in National Grid Gas’ maintenance procedures – an inadequate safe system of work, a failure to sufficiently plan or control the work and a failure to follow a dedicated procedure for high risk work.
“On this occasion their failings led to serious leg injuries to one of their experienced employees.
“Although the company took action to prevent this happening again, and the gas industry has a good record in managing high risk maintenance work, this incident is an important reminder that systems for controlling maintenance activities must be carefully planned, checked and followed on every occasion or people will be placed at unnecessary risk – which in the case of highly pressurised gas can be life threatening.”
For more information about working safely in the gas supply industry, visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/supply/index.htm
Notes to Editors:
1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
2. Regulation 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”
3. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press