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Worker Trapped in Gas Cloud Lucky to Survive

A gas engineer was lucky to escape with his life after becoming trapped beside a ruptured gas mains 10 feet below ground.

He was part of a National Grid Gas team trying to repair a leaking gas mains when one of the two pipes he was working between burst, breaking his leg.

The worker was then trapped next to the escaping gas while fire crews battled for an hour to free him amid zero visibility due to the air being thick with dust and gas. If he hadn’t been wearing breathing apparatus he would undoubtedly have lost his life.

The road around the excavation in Scunthorpe had to be closed to traffic and local residents were evacuated due to the risk of an explosion. It took three hours for the gas leak to be brought under control and the ruptured pipe to be fixed.

Following a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident, Sheffield Crown Court was told of a number of failings by National Grid Gas (Plc). These included, failing to comply with its own gas escape procedures, failing to carry out adequate risk assessments to protect workers, failing to properly communicate with the sub-contractors assigned to the job and failing to manage the handover of key staff.

The company was fined £1m and ordered to pay costs of £26,296 for breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Clearly, this man was incredibly lucky to escape with his life. The fire crews who attended the scene had no knowledge of how much gas they were dealing with at the time and it is testament to their skill and bravery working in zero visibility amid the threat of an explosion that they were able to bring him to the surface with only a broken leg.

This accident could so easily have ended in tragedy. Ensuring safety during live gas operations is critical due to the obvious risk of a major accident. The safe control of risk is only achieved by properly managed and supervised trained personnel correctly following procedures set out before a particular job is performed. These procedures are there for a reason and it is incidents like this that perfectly illustrate what can happen if they are not adhered to.

Matthew Tomlinson is a personal injury solicitor, specialising in work accident compensation claims at Slater and Gordon in Sheffield.

Slater and Gordon offer a free consultation for people injured in accidents and work. Call our personal injury lawyers day or night on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we will call you.

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