Companies around the UK have been given a reminder that they must protect their workers from electric shocks, after a council was found to have played a part in an injury suffered by one of its employees.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed it prosecuted Bury Council following an incident in which one of its staff was given a shock from a 230 volt mains cable.
An unnamed 33-year-old man from Prestwich suffered several injuries as a result of the electric shock, including burns to his leg, groin and wrist, as well as singed facial hair. He had been trying to remove a lamp post from its position in Rafcliffe in June 2011 when disaster struck.
Following an investigation into the case, the council was prosecuted by the HSE and it pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at a recent court appearance. It was fined £20,000 for its actions and ordered to pay more than £7,500 in costs.
The HSE discovered that the man had been given inadequate training and supervision for the type of work he was faced with. He had been working with a colleague to remove an old lamp post and was using a jackhammer to break the concrete in which it was set, but unfortunately hit straight into a live mains cable.
Speaking after Bury Council was sentenced, HSE principal inspector John McGrellis said: "He shouldn't have been put in a situation where he didn't know what the potential dangers were as he used a jackhammer to break up the concrete around the lamp post. It's vital that people carrying out work near to power lines receive appropriate supervision and training to ensure their safety."
As well as focusing on the required training, firms should also think about kitting out staff in safety equipment that could help them avoid electric shocks or suffer a minimal impact, should they wish to avoid proceedings similar to those encountered by the council.