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ELECTRIC CABLE EXPLOSION LEAVES WORKMAN SCARRED

Company failed to carry out essential steps when excavating near services

Kim Barker Construction Ltd has been prosecuted after a workman was left permanently scarred when the drill he was using struck an underground cable.

Richard Baisley, 26, of Scunthorpe, received severe burns to his hands, arms, face and chest when the drill went through concrete and pierced a 415 volt cable. The location of the cable was not established by the company before the work started.

Scunthorpe Magistrates heard how Mr Baisley and a co-worker were instructed to excavate openings to house two steel posts supporting a sign outside their site entrance.

The workers hired a drill to break through concrete and whilst being used by Mr Baisley the concrete ‘gave way’ and the drill bit pierced the cable resulting in an electrical explosion. Mr Baisley is unable to return to his work as a welder because of the effect of heat on his skin.

Location, location, location

Kim Barker Construction Ltd, of Flixborough Industrial Estate in Scunthorpe, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay £2,039 in prosecution costs.

Inspector John Dutton said:

“This is an example of how a simple job, no matter how straightforward it may seem on the face of it, can have serious, if not fatal, consequences if not properly planned.

There are lessons from this case that are relevant to many companies who decide to carry out work such work. First and foremost, when digging where underground services may be present, a firm needs to carry out an investigation to locate those services.

It also highlights the need to make sure every job is planned, undertaken and supervised using trained workers and the right tools.

Had the company followed industry guidance and best practice when this happened back in 2009, Mr Baisley would not be bearing the long-term scars of their failings today.”

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