National Grid Gas has been fined £4 million for failing to ensure its records relating to gas risers in some high-rise buildings were up to date.
In June 2017, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requested information from gas distribution network companies about their management of gas networks in high rise multiple occupancy buildings (HRMOBs).
According to HSE, at the time of the offence National Grid Gas operated the nationwide gas transmission system and the gas distribution systems supplying gas to around half of the domestic and industrial gas customers in the UK, including the gas pipes in HRMOBs.
However, in 2016, National Grid Gas sold part of its operations to Cadent Gas, including the activities which the failings relate ti.
HSE’s investigation revealed the incomplete records were transferred to Cadent by National Grid Gas when it sold its gas networks, therefore Cadent was continuing to inspect only the buildings on the existing database.
It found records on 769 buildings were missing, which meant gas risers in these HRMOBs had not been subject to condition surveys, inspection or routine maintenance for a number of years.
In addition, HSE found National Grid Gas had failed to ensure 112 HRMOBs had Pipeline Isolation Valves so gas to these buildings could be isolated in the event of an incident.
As a result, HSE undertook a criminal investigation that considered the risk that residents and members of the public were exposed to due to breaches to Health and Safety regulation. Enforcement notices were issued in April 2018 requiring Cadent to take remedial action, which was completed by September 2018.
National Grid Gas pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations and were was £4 million, with £91,805 costs at Liverpool Crown Court.
Julie Voce, HM Principal Inspector for HSE said: “This case had wide ranging implications. Our investigations found that people living and working in the high-rise buildings where the failings took place were not protected from the risk of gas leaks.
“National Grid Gas did not have a robust system for recording the details of the gas pipes within these buildings. Opportunities arose where National Grid Gas identified data errors, but these were never satisfactorily acted upon and opportunities to correct the situation were missed.
“This sentence reflects how important it is when companies are charged with ensuring records that could keep people safe and well are up to date, that they make that task a priority.”