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    CRANE OPERATOR CHEATS DEATH IN POWER LINE STRIKE

    Contractor failed to act on warning concerning overhead electric cable

    Ashford Homes (South Western) Ltd has been prosecuted after a crane operator suffered an electric shock when the equipment he was using came into contact with overhead power lines at Trowbridge Rugby Club on 20 March 2013. The crane was being used to move sections of steel where a new clubhouse and play area were being built.

    Swindon Crown Court heard (26 November) that as operator Lee Burge was lifting a section of steel using the crane when the hook block came into contact with an 11kV power line and he suffered an electric shock. He was resuscitated but now suffers from long term memory loss.

    HSE established that Ashford Homes had been warned by the supply company about the presence of overhead power cables and had received advice on the removal of the power supplies running across the site. However, no measures were put in place to prevent plant and equipment accessing the area beneath the power lines or for the power supply to be diverted or isolated.

    Risk avoidable by use of physical barriers

    Ashford Homes (South Western) Ltd of Melksham, was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,159 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 34(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

    Speaking after sentencing HSE inspector Ian Whittles, said:

    “Work near overhead power lines should be carefully planned and managed so that risks from contact or close proximity to the lines are adequately controlled. Ashford Homes failed to do this, and had been operating a range of machinery capable of coming close to the lines before Mr Burge was seriously injured.

    Luckily Mr Burge was resuscitated, but he now suffers from life changing complications due the electric shock he received. He was extremely close to losing his life and this is down to the failure of the construction company to adopt a safe system of work.

    This terrible incident could have been avoided had the company placed physical barriers on site so that no plant or equipment could gain access to either side and directly below the overhead power lines, or if the hive voltage cables were diverted or isolated.”

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