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UNDERGROUND CABLE STRIKE INJURY PROSECUTION

Breaker excavating in concrete struck 11kv cable causing serious burns

The Magna Heating Company Limited of Leamington Spa has been prosecuted after a workman suffered serious burns following an underground power cable strike.

The man was using a hand held mini breaker to excavate in concrete in an alleyway at Smith Street, Warwick, when he struck an 11kv cable under the pavement on 29 April 2009. The resulting explosion caused second degree burns to his face and neck keeing him off work for five weeks.

The Magna Heating Company Limited is in liquidation and no longer trading. However, representatives pleaded guilty to breaching the contractor duty under Regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. A fine of £1 was imposed by magistrates.

Contractor failed to take sufficient steps

The HSE investigation found that the company had failed to take sufficient steps to protect its employees from the risk presented by underground cables.

HSE inspector Paul Cooper said:

“This incident was entirely preventable had the company taken proper precautions. The company knew about HSE guidance on safe digging practice and failed to follow it.

The Magna Heating Company should have given clear instructions to its workers, provided a method statement before undertaking the work and obtained plans of site services.

It’s essential that employers have safe working procedures for any work involving underground services, electrical plant, cabling or equipment.”

Around 1,000 electrical accidents at work are reported to HSE each year and about 25 people die of their injuries.

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