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FATAL ACCIDENT INQUIRY: CHILD ELECTROCUTED

Death could have been prevented if workman had ‘cleaned up properly’

A Scottish fatal accident inquiry has ruled the death of a young child could have been prevented if a handyman had cleaned up properly.

Twenty-one-month-old Liam Boyle was electrocuted in his Glasgow home in February 2009. The Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that handyman Daniel Rough was fitting a new oven. A plug with uncovered wires was left in the living room, and Liam picked it up.

The youngster carried the plug to his toy room, plugged it in and is thought to have touched the conductors causing the fatal accident. His mother Claire Hughes found him lying lifeless and tried in vain to resuscitate him.

Sheriff Miller wrote:

“Liam would not have died when, where and how he did if he had been denied access to the new cable and plug once it had been disconnected from the new oven.

Undoubtedly that could have been achieved by keeping the new cable and plug in a place where Liam could not get at them while the work was being done and also by removing them as part of the necessary task of clearing up whatever tools and equipment had been brought to the house to allow completion of the instructed work after that work had been completed.

These, to my mind, are precautions that are obvious, no more than common sense…The primary responsibility for satisfying the reasonable precautions of keeping the new cable and plug in a place where Liam could not get at them while the work was being done, and for removing them as part of the necessary task of clearing up whatever tools and equipment he had brought to the house must rest with the person undertaking the job

Mr Rough knew that Liam, a small boy, was in the living room while he was carrying out the task of replacing the old oven in the next door room, the kitchen.

He ought to have taken account of Liam’s presence and young age to the extent of recognising that his work equipment of whatever description, and that includes the new cable and plug, would be a source of interest if not fascination to Liam, and that by reason of his young age this brought with it a significantly enhanced risk that the natural curiosity of a small boy had the potential to lead him into doing something that might injure himself even if his mother were also present in the same room.”

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