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ERECTOR NARROWLY ESCAPED ELECTROCUTION IN MEWP

Client, director and contractors all fined for failure to manage OH cable risk 

On 25 June 2009 steel erector Mark Rushbrook was constructing two new poultry units at Sunny Farm in Swineshead, Bedfordshire.

Mr Rushbrook, aged 24, was using a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) from which to clad the gable end of a steel frame when the MEWP came into contact with a 11 kv power cable. He sustained burns to his stomach and hands, and internal muscle damage. The gable end of the structure was within 4.3m of the overhead power line.

Luton Crown Court heard that the defendants failed to identify the potential risks of working near overhead power lines and did not put in place the necessary precautions, including notifying the relevant authorities.

Fines totally £130,000 imposed on defendants

C and P Bird Brothers Ltd, admitted breaching HSW Act Section 3(1) and was fined £20,000 and CDM 2007 Regulation 21(1) for which it was fined £20,000. It was ordered to pay £5,500 costs. Peter Bird, director of the company admitted breaching HSW Act 1974 Section 3(1) and was fined £5,000 with £2,500 costs.

Morspan Construction Limited, of  Newport Gwent, designed and manufactured the steel frame and was the main contractor. The company admitted breaching HSW Act 1974 Section 3(1) and was fined £30,000; and CDM 2007 Regulation 19(1)(c) for which it was fined £30,000. The company was also ordered to pay £5,250 costs.

Contractor Michael Skayman, of Attleborough, Norfolk, also admitted breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc and was fined £25,000 plus £4,750 costs.

HSE Inspector John Berezansky said:

“As construction work is a high risk activity with significant numbers of major and fatal injuries, good planning, communication and cooperation are needed constantly. Unfortunately, all the defendants in this case failed to achieve this.

That Mr Rushbrook’s injuries were not fatal is only a matter of luck. A lax attitude to health and safety is not acceptable, especially when so many incidents are completely avoidable by taking common sense actions and precautions.

The safety standards for working near overhead power lines are well-known and readily available.

As always, HSE will not hesitate to take action if we find poor practice putting lives at risk.”

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