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MAJOR ENERGY PROVIDER PROSECUTED AFTER DEATH

Sagging power cable struck by passing car caused death of workman

Scottish Power UK plc  has been fined £130,000 and ordered to pay £48,000 in prosecution costs after 20-year-old Simon Lines died when he was struck by an overhead power cable in January 2007. The company pleaded guilty to contravening Regulation 4(2) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.

Mr Lines died whilst he was warning motorists of a power cable that had sagged in high winds. The cable was struck by a passing van causing it to fall to the road where it was hit by a vehicle causing it to fly into the air. The cable struck Mr Lines in the face. 

He was taken to hospital but died eight days later from the injuries caused by the cable.

Wooden cable fixing arrangement failed

HSE investigation found the cable was attached to partially rotten wooden block. The deterioration in condition of the block led to the cable becoming detached. Since the incident Scottish Power has removed this type of fixing arrangement from its network.

The underlying problem was the use of an improvised timber spacer block into which the overhead line had been secured to the barge board of a domestic property. The nails and ceramic screw bobbin fittings ran along the direction of the grain in the timber block which may have encouraged propagation of cracking along the length of the bracket.

The structural integrity of the cable anchor was poor and did not conform to any known engineering standard

John Steed, HSE Specialist Electrical Inspector said:.

“Mr Lines was trying to make sure others weren’t injured and in doing so, received injuries so severe they killed him. Those who knew him may take small comfort from the fact that he died while acting in such an honourable way, but the fact that it could have been prevented makes the death of such a young man even more tragic.

The failure to maintain the wooden block led to the cable anchors detaching from the building, and set in motion a chain of events with a tragic outcome. Whilst some of the links in that chain of events could not have been prevented, what could have been prevented was the securing of the cable to the building by Scottish Power in what turned out to be an inadequate way.

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