Construction Industry Must Be More Aware Of Live Cables

HSE Issues Warning After Two Firms Are Fined For Safety Failings


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned construction professionals to be more vigilant when excavating in areas where underground electric cables might be located.

Its latest plea came after two north-east businesses were fined a combined £12,000 for their role in an incident that saw a digger come into contact with a live wire.

Hexham-based Egger (UK) and Northern Construction Solutions of Chester-le-Street were prosecuted for safety failings that led to the accident in March 2013.

Egger pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and was ordered to pay an £8,000 fine.

Northern Construction Solutions was given a £4,000 penalty after admitting to breaching regulation 13(2) of the same law.

Two workers were asked to excavate the area in front of an electric substation on behalf of Egger's subsidiary Compact.

As they set about their task, the bucket of a digger came into contact with a 20kV underground electric cable. Although neither of the employees were injured, the HSE felt an investigation was warranted.

It emerged that Egger was in charge of a diagram that outlined the position of live wires, but this had not been updated when previous rerouting work had been carried out.

As such, the drawings that were given to Northern Construction Solutions contained information that was out of date.

The HSE confirmed Northern Construction Solutions knew that changes had been made, but still accepted the diagrams presented by Egger.

Following the hearing at Newcastle Magistrates' Court, HSE inspector Andrea Robbins said this accident could have been fatal.

"The construction industry needs to be more aware of the dangers of working in the vicinity of live underground services. Appropriate planning and control measures should always be in place," she commented.

"A failure to do so could result in inadvertent contact with the live cables, the consequences of which can be fatal."