Firm Fined Over Electricity Deaths

Electrocution At Work

25.03.2008

A West Sussex firm has been fined £90,000 after two workmen were fatally electrocuted in County Durham.

Fred Cook, 38, and John Crimmins, 33, both of North Shields, died when their tower light hit an overhead power cable in 2002 after they were asked to move a metal column.

Their employer, Newcastle-based Hatton Traffic Management, was found not guilty of two health and safety breaches.

But contractor Colas, of Crawley, was fined by Teesside Crown Court after it admitted a breach of duty of care.

Colas was carrying out resurfacing work on behalf of the Highways Agency on the A66, near Bowes.

Health and Safety Executive principal inspector Rob Hirst said: "This tragic incident could so easily have been avoided.

"Had the risks from inadvertent contact with overhead power lines been recognised, the work activities properly planned and suitable control measures put in place, then this incident would not have occurred.

"I take this opportunity to remind everyone involved in managing work activities to review their systems of work to ensure tragedies such as this cannot be repeated.

"Employers, and those who have any influence or duties in the management of work activities, need to assess, plan and manage such high risk situations."

Copyright © PA Business 2008

www.hse.gov.uk/ (Health and Safety Executive)

David Urpeth, a Partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell said: The risk of injury or death following electrocution in an accident at work is well known. This tragic case demonstrates that those responsible work workers health and safety must carry out suitable and effective risk assessments if injury or death from workplace accidents is to be avoided.

"I represent many people who have been injured or killed in works accidents in circumstances where good risk assessments could and should have avoided the industrial accident."