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CONCRETE PUMP BOOM STRUCK OVERHEAD POWERLINE

Contractor and hire firm prosecuted after operator receives shock and burns

Contractor Lumsden & Carroll Construction Ltd and plant hirer James Kennedy have been fined after a worker suffered electric shock and serious burns whilst working near overhead power lines in February 2008

Pump operator John Dodsworth, 35, from Gateshead, was involved in carrying out modifications to sewers and was pouring concrete at the time of the incident. The pump had a 12m boom.

At conclusion of the pour the boom was swung to return to a ‘parked’ position and came into contact with overhead power lines crossing the site carrying 22,000 volts. Mr Dodsworth received an electric shock plus serious internal and external burns to his hands, head, chest and legs.

Immediate emergency treatment saved his life and he was taken to hospital by air ambulance where he underwent several operations, including skin grafts and the removal of part of his skull – leaving extensive scarring.

The court heard Mr Dodsworth still suffers constant pain which may be permanent and requires drug control meaning he may not be able to return to work. He can no longer participate in sport and his enjoyment of family life, with his partner and their three children (aged seven, 11 and 13) has been greatly affected.

Safe options could have been implemented

The work could have been undertaken safely using a range of precautions: (a) in an area on site remote from the power lines or (b)  by using equipment  not capable of coming into contact with the power lines or (c) with other precautions including physical barriers and warnings etc.

Lumsden & Carroll Construction Ltd, of Bowburn North Industrial Estate, Bowburn, Durham, was undertaking the work. It pleaded guilty to two charges of breaching Regulation 22(1)(a) and Regulation 34(2)(c) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined a total of £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,643.07 costs at Darlington Magistrates’ Court today (10 February 2011).

James Kennedy, of Richmond Avenue, Washington, who hired out the pump equipment, pleaded guilty of breaching Regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,821.53 costs.

After the case, HSE Inspector Martin Smith said:

“Construction plant coming into contact with overhead power lines continues to be a frequent cause of incidents, which are often fatal. Mr Dodsworth is lucky to be alive and will have to live with the after effects of his injuries for the rest of his life.

If it had been identified that working near the power lines was absolutely essential, then Lumsden & Carroll Construction Ltd and James Kennedy should have planned the work so that the pump was used sufficiently far from the power lines to prevent the incident and placed physical barriers and warnings at the site to control the work.

James Kennedy should have made enquiries to ensure that the plant he sent was suitable for the site and that precautions had been taken against well-known risks.”

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