Construction Company Found Negligent for Electric Shock Accident

A construction company has been fined by the Swindon Magistrates Court for negligence after one of its employees suffered a severe electric shock at a construction site.
In March 2013, Lee Burge (38) of Bristol had been employed on a construction project at the Trowbridge Rugby Club when he was operating a crane. As he started to life a section of steel, the hook block came into contact with an 11kV power line.

The contact between the crane and the line caused Lee to suffer a severe electric shock. Lee was rendered unconscious. The emergency services were called, and Lee was resuscitated at the construction site before being rushed to hospital to receive further medical attention. As a result of the shock, Lee now suffers long term memory loss.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) launched an investigation to the incident, and it was revealed that his employer-Ashford Homes (South Western) Ltd had been warned about the present dangers of the overhead power cables. They had received counsel on the removal of the power supplies running across the site from the electricity company operating them.

The construction company failed to act on this information, and took no precautions to ensure that there was no plant and equipment working around the area below the power lines. They also were negligent in ensuring that the power supply in the area was isolated or diverted, thus ensuring their employee’s safety.

Ashford Homes was prosecuted by the HSE for being in breach of Regulation 34(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and, at the Swindon Magistrates Court, the construction company pleaded guilty to all of the charges brought against them.

The company was fines £20,000 by the magistrates, and was ordered to pay £5,159 in costs. The HSE inspector involved in the case-Ian Whittles-stated: “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. Luckily Mr Burge was resuscitated, but he now suffers from life changing complications due the electric shock injury at work he received”.