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    FATAL OVERHEAD POWERLINE STRIKE

    Workman electrocuted during erection of polytunnel structure
      

    HSE has issued a warning about the dangers of working close to overhead power lines, after a Scottish soft fruit farming company and its owner were prosecuted following the electrocution of a Polish worker.

    Mr Gerard Faltynowski died in July 2006 when metal extension poles used to construct the steel frame of a polytunnel came into contact with an 11kv overhead power line on farm land.

    Thomas Thomson (Blairgowrie) Ltd and the managing director Thomas Peter Mackie Thomson were fined a total of over £10k after pleading guilty to health and safety offences.

    HSE Inspector Lawrence Murray said: “Mr Faltynowski’s tragic death was entirely preventable and arose from clear failures to assess and manage the risk of working close to or under overhead power lines. A suitable and sufficient risk assessment would have identified the danger and the necessary control measures, and a safe system of work would have ensured the safety of the employees. Despite receiving a warning from an electricity linesman who witnessed work being carried out under the lines just days before, the construction of the polytunnel’s metal frames continued.”

    Comment: This tragic incident occurred in an agricultural setting but provides a timely reminder to the construction sector where structures are erected or plant used close to overhead lines e.g. road building and repair. The fines imposed in these cases seem low given the fatal outcome and earlier “warning”. However, the courts are always obliged to consider the full circumstances of each case including the means of the offender.

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