£250k fine follows overhead line shock
A solar power company has been fined a quarter of a million pounds after a construction worker was electrocuted by an overhead power line.
The incident took place on 13th March 2013, when Pascon Ltd was laying cables in a trench for a British Solar Renewables (BSR), during installation of a solar farm at Knockworthy Farm in Great Torrington, Devon.
Ashley Coe, an agency worker, on site for Pascon, was part of a group of workers laying cables in a trench. An excavator tracked underneath a 33kV overhead power line and struck the power line. Mr Coe was helping to control a cable drum suspended from the arm of the excavator when the contact occurred.
Mr Coe suffered a life changing brain injury and had to be resuscitated by attending paramedics. Exeter Crown Court heard this week that he has been affected in many different ways. As a result of his injuries he suffers with short term memory loss, has some mobility issues and now no longer feels pain. His speech has been affected and he has lost much of his independence. He is unlikely to ever work again. Two other workers received shocks but escaped serious injury.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) told the court that despite the high risk work being undertaken, BSR had failed to install goal posts and signage to warn of the presence of overhead power lines in the area.
Pascon had failed to assess the risks of working under the overhead power lines, and subsequently had not appropriately planned, managed or monitored the work. It was using an unsafe method of installing the cables in the trench beneath the overhead power lines.
Principal contractor British Solar Renewables Ltd of Higher Hill Farm, Butleigh Hill, Butleigh, Glastonbury, Somerset, was charged with breaching Regulation 34(2) of the CDM Regulations 2007 and received a £250,000 fine and was ordered to pay full costs of £72,466.
Subcontractor Pascon Ltd, of Unit 1 Hayhead Farm, Longwood Lane, Walsall, West Midlands, was fined £35,000 plus £25,000 contribution to costs after admitting a breach of Regulation 13(2) of the CDM 2007.
HSE inspector James Lucas said after the hearing: “This incident was entirely preventable and arose from clear failures to plan, manage and monitor the work and to ensure that the construction site was set up with appropriate measures to control the risks of working under overhead power lines.
“Luckily Mr Coe was resuscitated, but he now suffers from life changing complications due the electric shock he received. He was extremely close to losing his life and this is down to the failure of both construction companies involved in the work.”
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This article was published on 12 Jan 2016 (last updated on 12 Jan 2016).