Fencing accounted for 25 percent of all reported incidents of workers operating too close to high pressure oil, gas, and chemical pipelines in 2021, making it the UK’s most common danger activity.
Overall, there were 77 fencing related incidents reported last year. This is 15 more than the year previous, according to Linewatch, the leading pipeline safety and awareness group. In its 2021 Infringement Report, Linewatch suggests this increase is the result of an improvement in reporting, rather than an increase in incidents.
Murray Peat, Manager at Linewatch, explains: “It’s encouraging to see data entries from new Members in 2021, and from some who have been reluctant to report their incidents in the past. Although it means the overall number of infringements has increased, we know that this wider and more transparent reporting is a good thing for the long-term safety of those involved in digging works.
“It’s thanks to more of our members promptly reporting any infringement or ‘near-miss’ that we can identify trends and problem areas – the dangerous activities, companies posing the biggest threats and even the geographical ‘hotspots’.
“Whilst we know that the rise in overall incidents can largely be attributed to broader reporting, fencing does remain the biggest cause of pipeline infringements.”
An infringement can be someone simply working near an oil, gas, or chemical pipeline without the owner’s awareness and permission, through to a worker actually striking a pipe.
The Linewatch Report suggests that 30 percent of infringement occurred even though the personresponsible for the incident was already aware of the pipeline’s existence. This is troubling as it highlights a casualness, in some quarters, about the actual danger when working near pipelines.
Murray Peat is concerned by this: “Pipelines can be buried as little as three feet below the surface, which is about the length of a cricket bat. If struck, they cancause serious injuries and fatalities, as well as irreversible environmental damage with commensurate fines. The potential risk cannot be overestimated. Which is why the proper process of searching with LSBUD before digging and of course, alerting the pipeline operator, shouldbe followed every time.”