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ANOTHER UNDERGROUND CABLE STRIKE PROSECUTION!

Midlands contractor fined following failure to locate hazardous services

Pacestone Construction Limited of Solihull has been fined £13k and ordered to pay almost £4k in prosecution costs after a workman was burnt when a breaker he was using struck an underground power cable.

The workman was using the pneumatic drill to excavate a trench on the Taylor Wimpey housing development in Walsall when the tool struck the 11kv cable on 13 August 2009.

He suffered severe burns from the resulting flash and was airlifted to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham for emergency treatment.

Safe working procedure is essential

The HSE investigation found that Pacestone failed to take sufficient steps to protect employees from the risk presented by underground cables. The workman was unaware of where services were located on the site. The company pleaded guilty to breaching CDM 2007 Regulation 34(3).

HSE inspector David Price said:

“This incident was entirely preventable had the company taken sensible precautions.

Using a cable detector, marking the location of cables and only allowing workers to use hand tools when digging in the proximity of live services would have avoided the risk of hitting cables.

“Serious injury or even death can result from contact with electricity. It’s essential that employers have safe working procedures for any work involving electrical plant, cabling or equipment.”

Detailed guidance on working safely on construction sites and avoiding danger from all underground services in contained in HSE Booklet HSG47.

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