Pipe maintenance firm fined £2.3m for fire hazard

A company with an £81m income has been ordered to pay £2.3m for a health and safety violation.

Exolum Pipeline System workers (formerly CLH Pipeline System) were excavating a suspected pipeline leak in woodland near Holme, North Lincolnshire in March 2018.

Workers mending the pipeline were at risk of being sprayed in petrol vapour. Petroleum under high pressure has the potential to form a highly flammable cloud that spreads metres from the pipe, so a lit match or ignition could have caused death or serious injury. Luckily, no one was harmed.

An investigation by the HSE into the incident found that the company failed to properly identify and control the risks associated with carrying out a pipeline repair.

Grimsby Crown Court found Exolum Pipeline System Ltd guilty of an offence contrary to Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Exolum was fined £2.3m and ordered to pay £157,431 in costs.

Recent accounts for the company show a total income of £81m and profit of £23m.

HSE inspector Mark Leadbetter said: “This incident had the potential to cause serious injury or death to multiple casualties and could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.”

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