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Mon October 26 2020

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Contractor fined after carpenter catches fire

3 Sep 10 An Aberdeen building contractor has been prosecuted after a carpenter was set on fire when a short circuit caused an electrical explosion.

An Aberdeen building contractor has been prosecuted after a carpenter was set on fire when a short circuit caused an electrical explosion.

George Forbes, 62, of Aberdeen, was working for Graeme W Cheyne (Builders) refurbishing flats on Holburn Street in the city on 11 November 2008.

He attempted to move a redundant electricity power supply, known as a fuse cut-out, because he needed to fit new plasterboard behind it. Unknown to Mr Forbes, the fuse cut-out was still live and connected to a 415 volt cable when he touched it.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation revealed that the cable was twisted, causing a short-circuit that created enough energy to melt the cable and create a small explosion. The firm was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay Mr Forbes £4,000 in today's prosecution.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard that Forbes suffered burns to his face and his left hand. While he recovered and returned to work a few weeks later, he was extremely lucky not to have been electrocuted.

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Aberdeen-based Graeme W Cheyne pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe system of work for employees working on or near an electrical system, breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974.

Following the case, HSE inspector Liz Standen said: "It's lucky Mr Forbes was not electrocuted or more seriously hurt when the 415 volt cable blew up in his face in what was an entirely avoidable incident.

"Graeme W Cheyne (Builders) Ltd, should have checked that all redundant electrical services on the property had been proven to be dead by a competent person before working on or near them.

"It is extremely dangerous to make assumptions that electrical equipment is safe to work with."

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