An employee was working on a farm pouring concrete when the floating arm of a mobile concrete pump came into contact with an overhead powerline.
As a result, the employee received an 11,000-volt shock which caused him to lose consciousness. His colleagues had to perform CPR to resuscitate him at the scene. The man was later taken to Hospital where he was in a coma for six days and hospitalised for 10 days.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the employer fell far below the expected standard and failed to implement its own control measures documented within its risk assessment. Therefore, the company did not meet the requirements of regulation 14 of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.
The HSE investigation also found that the sole trader controlling the works, failed to plan, manage and monitor the construction phase and failed to ensure reasonably practicable control measures were in place. Additionally, the concrete pump operator, failed to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and others who were affected by his acts or omissions.
The employer pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 14 of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. The company was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5425 plus a victim surcharge of £181 at Magistrates’ Court.
The sole trader controlling the works pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 13 (1) of Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015. They were fined £3,000 and ordered to pay costs of £525 plus a victim surcharge of £181 at Magistrates’ Court.
The concrete pump operator pleaded guilty to breaching section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act. They were handed a 12-month community order with a requirement to carry out 60 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £2,000 plus a victim surcharge of £90 at Magistrates’ Court.
Following the hearing, HSE inspector commented: All involved could have ensured that the mobile concrete pump lorry was positioned outside an exclusion zone to prevent contact with the overhead powerline. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.
The sole trader controlling the works, failed to plan, manage and monitor the construction phase.
- Always risk assess work near power lines and other services. FISA 804 has forestry specific guidelines.
- Controls in risk assessments must be implemented to be effective.
- Individuals as well as companies can be prosecuted for their actions or omissions whilst at work.
- If you feel work is being completed unsafely you must speak up. You could save someone’s life in doing so.