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JOINTER BURNED IN COMMUNICATIONS MIX-UP

Lack of checks and tests led to unsafe working on cable connection box

Powersystems UK Ltd has been prosecuted after Stephen Martin Edwards, 52, a high voltage cable jointer  suffered serious burns from 11kv equipment in Stroud on 18 September 2009.

Mr Edwards was working under the supervision of an electrical engineer to connect a cable between a circuit breaker on a ring main unit and a nearby transformer. He was told the cable connection box he was working on had been isolated and earthed. However, he was instructed to open the wrong box were terminals were still live.

When he began his work current arced between a live terminals and his spanner. The resulting flash ignited his clothes and badly burned on his hands, arms and chest. He has been unable to return to work.

Investigation revealed basic precautions not taken

Powersystems UK Ltd of Yate admitted breaching HSW Act Section 2(1). The company was ordered to pay £5,000 in fines, plus £8,000 in costs. HSE investigators found a number of failings by Powersystems UK, namely:

  • work was allowed to start without use of suitable test equipment to check the system was dead;
  • the injured man should have been wearing suitable PPE e.g flameproof overalls.
  • a risk assessment for the work had not been carried out;
  • detailed information about the system was not provided; and
  • the supervisor lacked knowledge and understanding of how to work safely on the system.

HSE inspector, Dawn Lawrence, said:

“The failings by Powersystems which led to Mr Edwards’ injury could easily have been avoided.

However, because basic precautions for safe work on electrical systems were not taken, Mr Edwards suffered burns which are so serious that he has not yet been able to return to work and, when he does, he is unlikely to be able to continue in his former role.

“The type of work meant Mr Edwards could have easily received a powerful electric shock, resulting in further serious injury or even death.”

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