St Albans haulage fine fined over safety breaches
PUBLISHED: 07:51 26 June 2011
A HAULAGE and demolition firm based in St Albans has been fined nearly £12,000 following serious health and safety breaches which included the release of more than half a tonne of gas.
Kane Haulage in Porters Wood also carried out work while electricity supplies to the buildings undergoing demolition work at the Oldfield Trading Estate in Sutton remained live.
The company had been contracted to carry out the work in preparation for the construction of a new self storage facility on the site and, although some work had been undertaken by the utility companies EDF Energy and Scotia Gas Networks (SGN) to disconnect the electricity and gas supplies, neither had completed the process.
City of London Magistrates Court heard that EDF engineers were called to the site on a number of occasions between May and July 2009 as a result of damage to live cables and had warned Kane Haulage not to continue with work until all the electricity supplies had been disconnected.
But despite this warning, demolition work continued and the electricity provider made a complaint to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) when it was again called to the site on September 15, 2009.
And two days prior to that, a resident of Oldfield Road reported the smell of gas in his garden and garage to SGN and the source was traced to the demolition site where up to 20 severed live gas pipes were found.
The polyethylene pipes had been bent over and tied with wire or duct tape, releasing gas at full pressure when they were untied. Steel pipes had been filled with mud which had dried out and cracked allowing gas to escape.
Kane Haulage pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined a total of £11,700 and ordered to pay costs of just over £6,935.
Speaking after the prosecution, HSE Inspector Loraine Charles said: “It is almost miraculous that there were no injuries, given the level of risk generated by the unsafe way in which Kane Haulage carried out this demolition in relation to the live electricity and gas services.
“Despite repeated warnings that both gas and electricity supplies to and through the site remained live, Kane Haulage proceeded with demolition works, thus exposing workers on the site, residents of the surrounding properties and users of the busy A217 dual carriageway bordering the site to very serious risks.”