Firm fined £150,000 following ‘totally avoidable’ incident

JOHN Murphy and Sons Ltd has been fined £150,000 after a high pressure pipeline was damaged during widening work on the M8 motorway.

Hamilton Sheriff Court heard that on 16 January 2014, during excavation works for a gas pipeline diversion, John Murphy and Sons Ltd hit the high pressure pipeline which was operating at 39 barg – resulting in 271 tonnes of gas being released into the atmosphere in the vicinity of employees.

The subsequent HSE investigation found that the pipeline had been hit by an excavator. John Murphy and Sons Ltd, of Highgate Road, London, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 15 of The Pipelines Safety Regulations 1996 and Section 33(1) (c) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

After the hearing Hywel Williams, a HSE inspector specialising in pipelines, commented, “This incident was totally avoidable and put workers at risk. The contractor failed to follow procedures and chose to conduct excavations in the vicinity of a high pressure pipeline by mechanical excavator instead of excavating by hand.”