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Serious burns incident provides salient reminder to FMs

06 January 2022

An accident that left a groundworker with serious burns has resulted in fines issued to a construction company and its ground works service provider following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The resulting court case at High Wycombe Magistrates' Court was told the incident occurred in August 2018, during preparations to install a post for an automatic number plate recognition camera (ANPRC).

When the groundworker discovered hedge roots, he stopped digging by hand and began to use a 110V mechanical electric breaker.

The groundworker received serious burns to one hand and his other arm when he hit the 415V power cable supplying the nearby British Telecom building.

HSE discovered that site plans for buried cables had not been consulted and a cable avoidance tool had also not been used during the excavation work.

Further to the above, it found that there had been a lack of trained staff and supervision in place.

The court was told that the principal contractor had failed to plan, manage and monitor the works and had not provided adequate supervision for the installation project.

CLC Contractors of Southampton was fined £400,000 with costs of £5,300 after pleading guilty to breaching section 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

PAG Building Services director Paul Gale of Netley Abbey, Southampton also submitted a plea of guilty to breaching Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was referred to Aylesbury Crown Court for sentencing.

The court sentenced Mr Gale to 14 months imprisonment, suspended for 24 months, 150 hours of community service and awarded costs of £7,200 to the HSE.

FMs and service providers engaged in similar projects are advised to ensure that all works are planned and supervised in the most appropriate manner.

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