Lady liberty holding the scales of justice

£40,000 fine for property company following gas explosion

A company in charge of refurbishing a property in Somerset has been fined £40,000 after a homeowner sustained burns when gas escaping from an open-ended pipe ignited.

North Somerset Magistrates’ Court heard that, following pre-sale refurbishment work at a property in Chard, a gas cooker was disconnected but the gas pipework was not sealed properly. This left an open-ended pipe connected to the mains gas supply, which was only turned off at the meter.

The cooker hob was removed during refurbishment in late summer 2018 when the property was empty. On 25 January 2019, the new owner moved in and turned on the gas to use the central heating boiler. He was unaware of the open-ended pipe, through which gas immediately started to escape.

As he was trying to turn on his cooker, the gas ignited, resulting in a small explosion and fire. The homeowner sustained smoke inhalation and burns, which required hospital treatment.

The HSE investigation found that the company in control of the refurbishment work had failed to ensure that persons not in its employment were not exposed to risks from the gas installation.

Holt Estates England Ltd of High Street, Caterham, Surrey, was found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,105.90.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Dawn Lawrence said: “This was a terrifying incident for the homeowner and could have proved fatal.”

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