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CLIENT BLAMED FOR CONTRACTOR CABLE STRIKE

Failure to provide CDM pre-construction information punished in court

Northgate Vehicle Sales Ltd of Darlington has been fined after a construction worker suffered severe burns to his face, neck and arms when he struck a buried electricity cable. The injured man was installing metal fencing during a car park refurbishment project in November 2010.

HSE investigators found that relevant pre-construction information, including existing hazards such as buried electricity cables, had not been provided to the contractor.

Darlington Magistrates’ Court heard (6 February) that the installation of the fencing required an excavation in the ground to insert the base of each fence post. The contractor was told there were no buried electricity cables. This was incorrect.

During use of a ground breaker the tool struck one of two 11kV cables buried at some 80cm below ground. This vaporised the tip of the breaker into a cloud of flame and molten metal, causing severe burns of varying depths to the workmans arms and some burns to his face and neck.

Wealth of guidance available for contractors and the client

Northgate Vehicle Sales Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 10(1)(b) CDM Regulations 2007 which requires the client to ensure that every contractor is provided with pre-construction information. The company was fined £12,000. The company was also ordered to pay £6,123.55 costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Jonathan Wills said:

“The injuries sustained by the worker could have easily resulted in him losing his life. He suffered severe burns and is still recovering from those injuries following an incident that could have been avoided had Northgate Vehicle Sales Ltd requested service plans and given them to those carrying out the construction work.

The risk of striking underground cables is well known throughout the construction industry and the law says you must take precautions to avoid danger.

There is a wealth of guidance available for contractors and the clients for whom the work is being carried out to help them manage the risks effectively.”

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