Murphy fined £150000 as excavator hits gas pipe

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John Murphy and Sons Ltd was sentenced for safety breaches after damaging a 10-inch gas pipeline whilst undertaking work to allow the widening of the M8 motorway.

Hamilton Sheriff Court heard that on 16 January 2014, during the course of the excavation works for the gas pipeline diversion, John Murphy and Sons Ltd hit the high pressure pipeline which was operating at 39 barg. This 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 and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the high pressure pipeline had been hit by an excavator during works for the gas pipeline diversion. 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 and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £150,000.

After the hearing 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.”