A demolition worker was left with 20% burns requiring skin grafts and resulting in permanent disabilities when his employer asked him to cut through a live 11,000-volt cable. When his machine made contact with the cable, the worker was engulfed in a ball of flames.
The two companies responsible for the works were prosecuted when the HSE investigation found that communication between the two companies had been inaccurate and misleading: the worker’s employer had been told that the services to the site had been disconnected; however, the electricity supply remained in place.
The demolition company had failed to check the situation before ordering their employee to cut the cable. Health and safety training advocates the importance of thorough risk assessments of particular works in order to minimise the risks that workers face. There also needs to be thorough checking procedures to ensure that potential risks are identified before any work takes place.
The demolition company was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £100,000. The architects who had failed to warn the demolition company that the electricity supply was still connected were fined £20,000 and ordered to pay nearly £21,000 in costs.