A groundworks contractor, G&R Groundworks (South East) Ltd, has been fined after a worker suffered multiple serious burn injuries when he struck an underground electricity cable.
Folkestone Magistrates’ Court heard that, on 15 October 2018, G&R Groundworks operatives were using an electric ground breaker to dig fence post holes for a car park perimeter fence at a Cummins Power Generation site in Ramsgate, Kent.
While operating the electric breaker, one of the operatives struck an 11 kv (kilovalt) electricity cable, equivalent to 11,000 volts of electricity. There was a large flash and he was engulfed in flames.
He sustained serious burns to his face, chest, abdomen, groin, both arms and both legs, amounting to approximately 50 per cent total body surface area burns.
An investigation by HSE found that G&R Groundworks failed to source and refer to the underground services plans prior to breaking the ground to determine the location of any cables within the planned working area.
They also failed to provide their operatives with cable identification equipment to further locate any cables within that area.
G&R Groundworks (South East) Ltd of St Lawrence Avenue, Ramsgate, Kent, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 25 (4) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and was fined £32,400 and ordered to pay costs of £2,657.18.
Speaking after the hearing, investigating HSE inspector Ross Carter said “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.
“If a suitable safe system of work was followed prior to the incident, the life changing injuries sustained by the operative would have been prevented.”
G&R Groundworks South East Ltd has appointed a health and safety person following the incident to "take care of all our CDM requirements, risk assessments and method statements,” according to its website.
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