Firm fined for gas explosion

A DEMOLITION firm has been fined £10,000 for safety failings after a gas pipe ignited in a worker’s face.

Saturday, 2nd June 2012, 7:30 am

An employee of Birstall Demolition and Plant Services Limited suffered serious burns after he cut into a metal gas pipe while working at a warehouse in Burton-on-Trent, a court heard.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), prosecuting, said the 37-year-old worker from Wakefield was taken to the local hospital with burns to his face and forearms.

He was later transferred to the burns unit at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where he was treated for two days.

The HSE said the incident could have been prevented if the man’s employers had undertaken basic checks to enure the pipe was safe.

It told Burton-on-Trent Magistrates’ Court on Friday how the worker could have died in the incident at Centrum 100 Business Park on June 16 2010.

The court heard he was using an angle grinder to remove hardware from a mezzanine area when he cut into a metal gas pipe, unaware it was still live.

The pipe then ignited, sending flames into his face and arms.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Alastair Choudhury said: “Injuries to workers in the demolition industry are all too common.

“Demolition activities need to be planned, supervised and monitored rigorously.

“However, Birstall Demolition and Plant Services Limited failed to perform the simplest of checks to protect their employee by not making sure that the pipes were safe.

“This employee suffered serious burns, which would have been worse if he had not been wearing goggles and safety gloves.

“For a lengthy amount of time after the incident, he was not able to return to work. However he is now working again, for a different employer, still bearing the scars from his ordeal.

“This incident could easily have resulted in even more serious injuries; in fact he could have died.”

Birstall Demolition and Plant Services Limited, in Gelderd Road, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was also ordered to pay £4,256 costs.