The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is urging gas network operators to learn from a fatal accident in which an elderly woman died in an explosion at her home.
On 11 February 2019, West Yorkshire Fire service were called to a fire and explosion in Mirfield, West Yorkshire. The occupier, Elena Frunza, who was in her 70s, was discovered during a search of the property, while it was still on fire. She was taken to hospital where she died the following day.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigators found that the fire started after gas escaped from a broken six-inch cast-iron main running under the road to the front of the property.
'This incident has highlighted a failure by Northern Gas Networks to follow [its] own safety procedures'
Leeds Crown Court was told that the main did not appear on drawings held by Northern Gas Networks and had not been maintained.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act for failing to ensure the safety of those not in its employment. It was fined £5 million and ordered to pay costs of £91,487.
'This incident, which put the lives of the elderly residents of a care home at risk and cost a homeowner her life, has highlighted a failure by Northern Gas Networks to follow [its] own safety procedures, in this case requiring the prompt and effective investigation and correction of anomalies in their records,' said HSE inspector Neil Casey after the hearing.
'Other gas network operators should take the opportunity to learn from this tragic incident.'