Failure to follow safety procedures results in cutting of live 11,000 volt cable

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A demolition worker has suffered 20% burns after he was engulfed in flames following an attempt to cut a live 11,000 volt cable at an electricity substation in Worcester.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted DSM Demolition Ltd of Birmingham and Halesowen-based Gould Singleton Architects Ltd (GSA) following the incident in July 2006, resulting in fines for both companies. DSM were was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work… Act, fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £100,000 costs. GSA pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work… Act 1974 and Regulation 15(3)(e) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994. They were was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £20,872 costs.

The Crown Court learned that DSM was demolishing a metal casting foundry in Wainwright Road, Worcester. Employee Mr Lee Harris, 35, was instructed to cut through a cable that was connected to a switching unit on a substation on the site which was still live. Mr Harris was engulfed in flames when the machine he was using to cut the cable contacted with live conductors, leaving him with permanent disabilities that require skin grafts.

The HSE’s subsequent investigation determined that neither GSA – as planning supervisor – nor demolition contractor DSM had made the necessary checks to ensure that all the electricity on the site had been correctly disconnected. The record shows that GSA had informed DSM that all services to the site had been stopped when in fact the power supply remained live. DSM were obliged to make sure that electrical services had been disconnected before starting demolition, but that they failed to do so.

HSE inspector Mr Tariq Khan, speaking after the hearing, said: “Live electricity poses a serious risk of death or serious injury to demolition workers. It is essential that companies working in this sector take proper precautions to protect their workers. Neither of the two companies prosecuted had made adequate checks to ensure that the power supply to the cable required to be cut by Mr. Harris had been terminated. Had they done so then this incident would never have happened and Mr. Harris would not have suffered such serious injuries. Construction, design and management co-ordinators must ensure that the information they pass on to contractors which could affect the safety of their workers is correct. Likewise, demolition contractors must follow safe systems of work at all times and ensure they check information provided to them about services on site.”

At PB Ross Electrical Contractors we take our employees and customers safety very seriously – in fact it is our number one consideration for every contract we undertake. We strictly adhere to industry safeguards and ensure all our electrical materials meet the vigorous materials and parts integrity requirements of  BSI British Standards. We are members of CHAS – the Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme – and trade bodies NICEIC – the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting – and ECA – the Electrical Contractors’ Association.

PB Ross are also the only accredited CompEx electrical contractor within 60 miles of Leicester (the global Competency Validation and Certification for electrotechnical and mechanical craftspersons working in potentially hazardous or explosive atmospheres). We’re also a member of APEA – the Association for Petroleum and Explosives Administration.

For peace of mind and a nationwide reputation for safe, high quality electrical installation and electrical repair contact PB Ross today on 0116 277 3162.

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