Scales of Justice

Fatal explosion was caused by workers cutting through live gas pipework

A Glasgow asbestos removal contractor has been fined £150,000 after one employee was fatally injured and another was seriously injured in a gas explosion.

Hamilton Sheriff’s Court heard that on 5 October 2017, workers were removing a boiler and pipework, and overspraying walls to remove asbestos residue at the former Pastoral Centre in Bonkle Road, Newmains, Wishaw.

Work was being carried out prior to demolition and the intention was to cut the boiler and pipework into sections to make it easier to remove. However, the gas supply had not been isolated and the workers cut through a live gas outlet pipe. The gas ignited and caused an explosion.

Two workers received extensive burns and underwent surgery. One of the employees died in hospital several days after the incident.

The HSE investigation found that the risk assessment and plan of work for the job had identified that there were gas services in the boiler room, but the company failed to ensure that the gas pipework was isolated and purged before work started.

Enviraz (Scotland) Limited of Kelvin Avenue, Hillington Business Park, Glasgow, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £150,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Helen Diamond said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided if the company had ensured that the gas pipe in the boiler room had been isolated and purged prior to removal. Within the asbestos licensing permissioning regime, HSE expects licensed contractors to have adequate management arrangements in place to control non-asbestos risks.

“Given the potential consequences of using a power tool on live or unpurged pipework, the management system to establish the status of the pipework needs to be robust and there should be written confirmation of isolation.

“Tragically, one man has lost his life as a result of this incident and a second worker has sustained life-changing injuries.”

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