National Grid has been heavily fined by the Norwich Magistrates’ Court after it pleaded guilty to a breach of health and safety regulations.
An employee of National Grid Gas plc (who does not wish to be named for personal reasons) was working on temporary pipework attached to a recompression unit when the accident occurred in 2012. Whilst the worker was working on the pipework the recompression unit broke and suddenly released trapped gas as high pressure, striking the worker’s leg and fracturing it. As a result of the accident the worker required surgery on his leg and for a steel plate to be inserted to attempt to bind the fractured bone. He was hospitalized for a week and was unable to work for several months after the accident. It is not currently known whether the employee has made a claim for personal injury.
The Health and Safety Executive were informed of the accident and subsequently investigated. This investigation found that the worker had not followed the requisite Non-Routine Operation procedure that applied in the circumstances and that the company had failed to properly plan the work, resulting in the implementation of an inadequate system of work. The HSE therefore recommended that a prosecution of the company be undertaken because of these health and safety breaches.
The case came before the Norwich Magistrates’ Court on 15 November 2013. National Grid Gas plc pleaded guilty to a breach of s.2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was as a result fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,846.
National Grid Gas plc appear not to have commented on the matter and it is not currently known whether or not National Grid plc instructed a firm of criminal defence solicitors to handle their defence.
Mr Duraid Alkaraji, an HSE inspector, stated after the sentencing: “HSE’s investigation identified key issues in National Grid Gas’ maintenance procedures – an inadequate safe system of work, a failure to sufficiently plan or control the work and a failure to follow a dedicated procedure for high risk work. On this occasion their failings led to serious leg injuries to one of their experienced employees.”
Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Businesses must attempt to implement a safe system of work for their employees. If they fail to do so and an employee is injured, they risk not only prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive but also a potential lawsuit from the injured employee.”
Redmans Solicitors are employment law solicitors and personal injury solicitors based in London