• Robert Spicer

Workers injured in gas leak fire: Southern Gas Networks plc fined £1.2 million

Workers injured in gas leak fire: two companies fined

Health and Safety Executive v Southern Gas Networks plc and Cliffe Contractors Ltd (2018) Folkestone magistrates’ court, November 6

Statutory reference: ss. 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc., Act 1974 (HSWA)

A gas distribution company and a construction company have been fined after two workers suffered injuries after a gas main ignited.

The facts

  • In May 2016 Southern Gas (SGN) employees went to a gas escape in Whitstable, Kent. The escape had been caused by workers employed by Cliffe Contractors damaging a gas main during construction work.

  • During the repair, the gas ignited. One SGN worker suffered severe burns and another suffered cuts and bruises.

  • Cliffe Contractors had not followed safe digging techniques when working around the gas pipeline. The gas main was damaged by a mechanical excavator, which resulted in the release of a significant amount of gas.

  • SGN did not follow its own procedures and recognised safe systems of work when repairing the main.

The decision

  • Southern Gas Networks plc was fined £1.2 million plus £18,000 costs under s.2 of HSWA.

  • Cliffe Contractors Ltd was fined £60,000 plus £12,000 costs for breaches of ss. 2 and 3 of HSWA.

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