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Wed September 23 2020

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Murphy fined £150k for causing gas leak

13 Aug John Murphy & Sons Ltd has been fined £150,000 after an excavator smashed a high-pressure gas pipe while working on the widening of the M8 motorway.

Murphy was sentenced for safety breaches after damaging the 10-inch pipe during advance utility works for the motorway widening project. Hamilton Sheriff Court heard that the incident happened on 16th January 2014, during excavation works for the pipeline diversion.

The break in the pipe, which was operating at 39 bar(g), resulted in 271 tonnes of gas being released into the atmosphere in the vicinity of employees near the M73 junction.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the high-pressure pipeline had been hit by an excavator.

Hywel Williams, a HSE inspector specialising in pipelines, said: “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.”

J 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 & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £150,000.

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