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HSE PROSECUTES LAMBETH LBC OVER TOWER BLOCK EXPLOSION

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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is prosecuting three parties ...
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is prosecuting three parties

following an explosion at the Kerrin Point tower block in south

London.

An investigation by the HSE followed a gas explosion at Kerrin Point,

Hotspur Street, London SE11 on 26 June 1997, which caused extensive

damage to the tower block and surrounding property.

The HSE alleges that Lambeth LBC - owner of the tower block - breached Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA) in that it failed to ensure the safety of its employees in the use of hot water boilers. It is also alleged that the council failed to ensure the safety of persons not in its employment.

It is also alleged that Staward Engineering Ltd, of Holmesdale Road,

Croydon, Surrey, contravened Section 3(1) of the HSWA, in that the

company failed to replace burners on the boilers in a safe way, so

failing to ensure that persons not in its employment were not exposed

to health and safety risks. It is also alleged that the company

breached Regulations 5(1) and 33(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation

and Use) Regulations 1994 (as amended), in that it installed gas

burners, booster, and pipework in an unsafe manner, and failed to

examine the work afterwards.

The HSE also alleges that Colin John Duffel, trading as Heating and

Mechanical Services, 63 Kings Road, Biggin Hill, Kent, breached

Regulations 3(1) and 3(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use)

Regulations 1994 (as amended), in that he commissioned the gas

burners when he was not competent to do so and while not registered

with CORGI - the Council for Registered Gas Installers. It is also

alleged that Mr Duffell contravened Regulations 5(3) and 33(2) of the

same Regulations in that he did not carry out the commissioning in

accordance with appropriate standards; failed to make sure the gas

burners complied with the Regulations; and that he failed to

disconnect the appliance.

The cases are due to be heard before Horseferry Road Magistrates'

Court, Horseferry Road, London SW1, on 10 December 1998.

Notes

1. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

(HSWA), states: 'It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so

far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at

work of all his employees.'

2. Section 3(1) of the HSWA states: 'It shall be the duty of every

employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so

far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment,

who may be affected thereby, are not thereby exposed to risks to

their health and safety.'

3. Regulation 3(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use)

Regulations 1994 (GSIUR), as amended, states: 'No person shall carry

out any work in relation to a gas fitting or gas storage vessel

unless he is competent to do so.'

4. Regulation 3(3) of the GSIUR states: 'No employer shall allow any

of his employees to carry out work in relation to a gas fitting or

gas storage vessel, and no self-employed person shall carry out any

such work unless he is a member of a class of persons approved for

the time being by the Heath and Safety Executive ....'

5. Regulation 5(1) of the GSIUR states: 'No person shall install a

gas fitting unless every part of it is of good construction and of

sound material, of adequate strength and size to secure safety and of

a type appropriate for the gas with which it is to be used.'

6. Regulation 5(3) of the GSIUR states: 'No person shall carry out

work relating to a gas fitting or gas storage vessel otherwise than

in accordance with appropriate standards and in such a way as to

prevent danger to any person.'

7. Regulation 33(1) of the GSIUR states: 'Where a person installs a

gas appliance at a time when gas is being supplied to the premises in

which the appliance is installed, he shall immediately thereafter

test its connection to the installation pipework to verify that it is

gastight and examine the appliance and the gas fittings and other

works for the supply of gas and any flue or means of ventilation to

be used in connection with the appliance ....'

8. Regulation 33(2) of the GSIUR states: 'Where a person carries out

such testing and examination in relation to a gas appliance and

adjustments are necessary to ensure compliance with the requirements

specified in sub-paragraphs (a) to (d) of Regulation 33(1) of the

said Regulations, he shall either carry out those adjustments or

disconnect the appliance from the gas supply.'

9. The maximum penalty in a Magistrates' Court for any breach of

Sections 2 or 3 of the HSWA is£20,000. The maximum penalty for any

breach of the GSIUR is£5,000. If the case is referred to the Crown

Court, the maximum penalty it may impose is an unlimited fine.

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