Two companies, a director and a sub-contractor have been fined a total of £130,000 for health and safety failings after a construction worker suffered serious burns following an electric shock from an overhead power cable.
Self-employed steel erecter Mark Rushbrook, was constructing two new poultry units at Sunny Farm in Swineshead, Bedfordshire. He was using a scissor lift to clad the gable end of a steel frame when it came into contact with a power cable and he suffered an 11kv electrical shock.
Mr Rushbrook, 24, from West Winch, King's Lynn, Norfolk, sustained burns to his stomach and hands, and internal muscle damage in the 25 June 2009 incident.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) charged a number of parties after its subsequent investigation found the gable end of the structure was within just 4.3m of an overhead power line.
HSE told Luton Crown Court on Friday 27 May the defendants failed to indentify the potential risks of working near overhead voltage lines and had not put necessary precautions in place, including notifying the relevant authorities.
Farm owner C and P Bird Brothers Ltd, admitted breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for which it was fined £20,000 and Regulation 21(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 for which it was fined £20,000. It was ordered to pay £5,500 costs.
Peter Bird, a director of C & P Bird Brothers Ltd admitted breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £5,000 with £2,500 costs.
The company which designed and manufactured the steel frame, Morspan Construction Limited of 21 Gold Tops, Newport, Gwent, was also the main contractor and admitted breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc for which it was fined £30,000; and Regulation 19(1)(c) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 for which it was fined £30,000. In addition the company was ordered to pay £5,250 costs.
Self employed steel erector and sub-contractor on the project Michael Skayman of Edenside Drive, Attleborough, Norfolk, also admitted breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc and was fined £25,000 plus £4,750 costs.
HSE Inspector John Berezansky said:
"As construction work is a high risk activity with significant numbers of major and fatal injuries, good planning, communication and cooperation are needed constantly. Unfortunately, all the defendants in this case failed to achieve this.
"That Mr Rushbrook's injuries were not fatal is only a matter of luck. A lax attitude to health and safety is not acceptable, especially when so many incidents are completely avoidable by taking common sense actions and precautions. The safety standards for working near overhead power lines are well-known and readily available.