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    TIPPER STRUCK OVERHEAD POWER LINE

    High voltage strike ‘fried’ mechanics of tipper truck

    JF Finnegan, of Sheffield has been ordered to pay almost £20k in fines and prosecution costs after a voltage power line strike “fried the mechanics of a tipper truck and endangered the lives of workers”.

    Saxby Surfacing Contractors Ltd, also from Sheffield were ordered to pay over £5k in fines for an offence under CDM 2007 Regulation 34(2).

    Truck flat bed struck overhead conductor

    The 66,000 volt surge was caused when the tipper truck flat bed was raised and it touched overhead power cables on 5 December 2007.

    Both companies were involved in building a private road in Doncaster at First Point Business Park. During the work, a tipper wagon, which was in its raised position, touched a high voltage overhead cable. The 66,000 volt shock passed through the wagon, resulting in severe damage to the pneumatics and the hydraulics.

    The court heard this was the third similar incident at the site. HSE inspectors found a lack of suitable signage warning of overhead danger or height restricting posts in operation.

    Driver and nearby workforce at risk of death

    After the hearing HSE Inspector Stephen Hargreaves said: “In this instance, had the driver of the tipper wagon left the vehicle when contact was made with the power line, it would almost certainly have proved fatal. Luckily he remained in the vehicle and he escaped without injury.

    “But it wasn’t only the driver who had been put at risk – anyone else standing in close proximity could also have been killed or seriously injured. Had there been appropriate signage in place, as well as height restricting goal posts this, incident could easily have been avoided.”

    Dangers and precautions are well known

    The dangers of working on overhead power lines are well known within the construction industry and around a third of this type of incident results in a fatality. In 2007, nine people were killed and many more injured in the workplace due to contact with overhead power lines.

    In total, around 1,000 electrical incidents at work are reported to HSE each year and about 25 people die of their injuries.

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