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Murphy fined £150,000 after excavator hits gas pipeline

13 August 2020

J Murphy & Sons has been fined £150,000 after an excavator working on the widening of the M8 motorway hit a 10-inch gas pipeline and caused a high-pressure gas leak.

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 bar. This resulted in 271 tonnes of gas being released into the atmosphere around employees near the M73 junction, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

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.

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.”