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11,000 Volt Cable Cut by Accident Results in Serious Burns
Posted by David Cant on March 8, 2012

A Worcestershire demolition worker was burnt terribly when he accidently cut through a live wire who was carrying 11,000 volts at an electricity substation. DSM Demolition and Gould Singleton Architects were both investigated after the incident when the Health and Safety Executive arrived to determine what had happened. As a result they were taken to court and subsequently fined for breaching various sections of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The state of the Site Electrics Were Not Checked Before Work Began

Lee Harris was working for DSM who had been hired to demolish a metal casting foundry in Worcester. Mr Harris was told to cut through a cable using a machine, unfortunately the cable was still connected to a substation and was live at the time. As the machine made contact with the wire Mr Harris was engulfed in flames. He suffered 20% burns to his body and has had to endure pain, skin grafts and learn to live with permanent disabilities. A simple error changed a man’s life forever and could have easily resulted in the loss of life.

When the Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident they discovered that neither of the two firms had made sure that the electrics on the site had been disconnected. Gould Singleton Architects had been informed by DSM that the site was no longer connected to the electrics, but DSM did not check to see if this was the case before they began working on demolishing the site.

Huge Fines for Failing to Follow the Health and Safety at Work Act

Both of the companies were prosecuted at Worcester Crown Court. DSM failed to follow section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and found guilty at the court. They were ordered to pay court costs of £100,000 and fined £40,000. Gould Singleton Architects pleaded guilty for breaching Section 3(1) of the same act and also Regulation 15 (3) (e) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations. They were ordered to pay costs of £20,872 and were fined £20,000.

Safe Systems of Work Required in the Construction Industry

It is vital that all companies involved in building or demolition ensure that the correct checks are carried out before any work commences on site. During this time it is also important to have good communications between all of the companies involved in the work on site.

Health and Safety consultants can help you with many different aspects of safety in the construction industry.  The HSE will prosecute any company found to be breaching the regulations stated in the Health and Safety at Work Act or the Construction Design and Management Regulations. To prevent this from happening and to ensure you are doing everything possible to prevent accidents or risk the health of your workers you can undertake the services of consultants.

Use the health and safety services available to reduce the risks. There are many available including training, fire risk assessments, health and safety files and more. To find out more about these services contact the experts on 0800 1488 677 today.


Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME's favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick.

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This post has been filed in: Health and Safety at Work, Health and Safety Services, Health and Safety Tests, Workplace Health and Safety

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