Energy Giant Fined Over Live Cable

Worker Set On Fire by Power Cable

15.04.2008

Energy giant Scottish Power has been hit with a £32,000 fine after a Liverpool worker was set on fire by touching a live cable.

Liverpool Crown Court was told that subsidiary SP Power Systems should have tackled the danger five months before plasterer Peter Mason was turned into a "human fireball".

While ablaze, 22-year-old Mr Mason was forced to run 40m before finding a puddle to roll in to extinguish the flames.

He spent three weeks in a burns unit and was unable to return to work for four months.

Simon Parrington, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said SP Power Systems had been told of the live cable danger, at a building site in Great George Street, Liverpool, in October 2006.

Although it had been temporarily made safe by electricians, poor communications between SP Power Systems' staff meant the fault was thought to have been fixed.

Judge Nigel Gilmour said: "The system that existed at the time of the accident had the inherent weakness that verbal communication can be and was misunderstood.

"Had there been written procedures in place this would not have happened."

SP Power Systems pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable steps that persons not in their employment were not exposed to risks.

Copyright © PA Business 2008

David Urpeth, a Partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "Employers have a duty of care to provide workers with a safe place and a safe system of work to avoid work accidents. Sadly, in this case, SP Power failed to protect Mr Mason from being exposed to risks which led to this terrible and frightening industrial accident.

"I represent many workers who have been injured or killed in accidents at work in circumstances that could and should have been avoided."