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Gas Worker Killed By 100kg Steel Cap Which Blew Off Pipe

‘I Need Reassurance That Shaun’s Death Was Not In Vain,’ Says Partner Following Inquest


The heartbroken fiancée of a contractor who died of massive internal injuries after a 100kg steel cap blew off a gas pipe and struck him has called on companies to do more to protect the safety of their workers in the hope of preventing further ‘needless’ deaths.

Lyndsey Arthur is speaking out following the end of a four-day inquest at Woking Coroner’s Court into her partner Shaun Maslin’s death on October 21 2011, which concluded on 18 June 2014.

The jury recorded a verdict of accidental death and HM Senior Coroner for Surrey, Mr Richard Travers, added: “I can announce that I do intend to make a Regulation 28 report. This will touch on two areas, the first to be that pressure testing be recognised as a high risk activity requiring its own competence. The second to be in relation to on-going training with competencies attach to it.”

During the inquest, where Lyndsey was represented by serious workplace injury experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell the Coroner heard that Shaun’s business, SM Plant Ltd, was sub-contracted to pressure test a section of a steel gas main as part of North London Gas Alliance (made up of Skanska UK and National Grid Gas) plans to replace gas mains across London and the South East.

During the pressure test at the site in Staines, which Mr Maslin’s family believe should have been supervised by National Grid engineers, the anchorage system holding the end cap in place failed and the cap blew off the pipe while Shaun was stood next to it, striking him and throwing him 20ft from the sheer force of the blast.

The 44-year-old died at the scene from severe internal injuries despite resuscitation attempts by his colleague and paramedics, leaving his fiancée Lyndsey, their four-year-old daughter Eloise and his parents Philip and Carol, devastated.

Following its investigation Skanska UK compiled an eight-point action plan which included auditing and reviewing standards for pressure testing, sub-contracting arrangements and the company’s pressure testing methodology.

Lyndsey, backed by her expert legal team at Irwin Mitchell who are representing her in a civil claim says lessons must be learnt throughout the industry to improve safety standards.

“I am still struggling to come to terms with what happened to Shaun, his death has left a huge void in all of our lives,” Ms Arthur from Kington Langley in Wiltshire, said.

“It has been incredibly hard to hear evidence at the inquest which suggests more could have been done to make Shaun’s work safer and prevent the horrific injuries he suffered.

“Whilst nothing can turn back the clock, I need reassurance that Shaun’s death has not been in vain and that improvements have been made across the gas pressure testing industry to prevent any further needless deaths and to prevent any other family from going through this heartache.

I would also like to thank my legal team at Irwin Mitchell and Barrister Chris Walker for their support during this very difficult time.”

The latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that 148 people were killed at work in 2012/13 and workplace injury experts at Irwin Mitchell believe more can be done to reduce this figure.

Deborah Rose is a serious injury expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office representing Lyndsey.

Expert Opinion
This is a tragic case which illustrates the terrible consequences which can occur when dangerous operations are being carried out. Whatever conclusions are drawn from the facts of this case, Mr Maslin’s death highlights the need for companies to adequately risk assess what are often complex and dangerous operations, including those delegated to sub-contractors and ensure appropriate supervision and technical support is provided.

“Shaun was a loving family man and it remains incredibly difficult for his family to come to terms with what happened, particularly as it is clear steps could have been taken to make Shaun’s work safer.

“We will continue to support Lyndsey in a civil claim to provide the family with financial stability throughout their future and hope that this matter will now be resolved quickly so Lyndsey can concentrate on rebuilding their lives.”
Deborah Rose, Senior Associate

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