A man sustained serious, life-changing injuries after striking a 415v electricity cable during work to refurbish a pharmacy in central London.
The labourer struck the underground cable while digging a trench during work to lay a new sewage pipe. After suffering burns to his body and throat, the 41-year-old man is unable to work and is now registered disabled.
The HSE investigated the incident in Edgware Road, in July 2013, and prosecuted the company in control of the work, Medpharma Ltd, after deciding it contravened health and safety laws.
At Southwark Crown Court Medpharma Ltd was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay £40,000 in costs after being found guilty at an earlier trial to breaching the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
The HSE inspector on the case commented that this terrible incident left a man seriously injured, with consequences that he is still living with two years later.
The HSE want to warn any business that could have digging work that if it is liable to disturb underground services it is vital to take suitable and sufficient steps to control the risks. Guidance on these steps is freely available online at www.hse.gov.uk .
It seems that in this case, one of the Medpharma Ltd key mistakes was to take on practical control of the work during the project without having the necessary understanding to be able to manage construction work safely. This is something that must be avoided by any business; if you don’t have the expertise then it’s important to seek competent assistance.
For Medpharma Ltd not doing so has left a man with life changing injuries and the business with a £100k in fines and costs.