Liquid concrete sprayed out of damaged pipe on to pedestrians11 September 2012
An armed police car was damaged and members of the public were showered in concrete when a pump split and sprayed out wet concrete at a construction site in London.
London Concrete Pumping Ltd was contracted to provide mobile concrete-pumping equipment as part of a construction project to build an office building opposite Wellington Barracks, near Buckingham Palace. On 24 May last year, the company supplied a concrete-delivery line, which was used to pump wet concrete to part of the building 10 metres above ground.
The pump operator, believing there was a blockage in the pipe, released the pressure and started reverse pumping. The pipe suddenly burst and began spraying liquid concrete at a high velocity, showering pedestrians and two police officers. The debris caused a minor head injury to a woman and shattered the window of a police car 25 metres away.
The HSE launched an investigation and found the pipe had been damaged in a separate incident, which took place at least 11 months earlier. Paint had been scraped off the pipe, causing it to rust, and there was also a big dent in this section of the pipe, which measured approximately 1.4 metres. No efforts had been made to repair or replace the pipe, which was placed under extreme pressures by the concrete, as it passed through it and caused it to explode.
HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers told SHP that the company had failed to put procedures in place to ensure that daily inspection and maintenance of the pumping equipment was carried out. It was also the case that the equipment was not subjected to periodical services by a competent person. Had this happened, explained the inspector, the company would have identified the need to remove the pipe from service.
“It’s simply not acceptable for firms to show the level of disregard for people’s safety that London Concrete Pumping demonstrated here,” Inspector Verrall-Withers remarked.
“Its failure to carry out effective maintenance on its plant and equipment meant the company put others at risk and ultimately led to a person being injured. Companies have a duty to ensure work activity is not only safe for workers but also for people in the immediate vicinity.”
London Concrete Pumping Ltd appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 10 September and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £8000 and ordered to pay £31,000 in costs.
In mitigation, the company said it had no previous convictions and has subsequently changed its procedures to ensure periodic services are carried out on its equipment.
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