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COUNTY COUNCIL PROSECUTED AFTER OVERHEAD STRIKE

Narrow escape for driver after lorry mounted crane jib hits cable 

Northumberland County Council has been prosecuted after a lorry mounted crane jib struck a 20,000 volt overhead power line at one of its depots on 19 February 2010.

The wagon was unloaded and the crane jib left in the raised position. When the vehicle moved off the jib came into contact with the power line which was brought down to the ground.

Magistrates heard that found that an alarm on the crane, which would sound when the jib was raised, had been disabled. In addition the driver had never visited the depot, the warning signs were indistinct and he was unaware the line spanned that section of the site.

HSE guidance suggests avoiding working near overhead power lines whenever possible, but if not avoidable then measures such as goalposts, clear zones beneath the line, designated vehicle sites and large warning signs should be used.

Functioning alarm would have prevented incident

Northumberland County Council, of County Hall, Morpeth, pleaded guilty of one breach of Regulation 4(3) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and was fined £13,400. It was also ordered to pay £8,364.50 costs.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Sally Brecken said:

“Direct contact with electrical equipment at such high voltages is very likely to lead to fatal injuries through either electric shock or burns. This was a narrow escape that could have easily been avoided.

If the alarm on the crane had been functioning the driver would have been aware the crane was still raised before driving off and if suitable control measures around the overhead power line had been in place, the driver would have known about it.

The first consideration should always to be to avoid working near overhead power lines and in this instance it was possible for them to be relocated, which has since been done as Northumberland County Council has re-routed the power line underground around the perimeter of the depot.”

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