Construction News

Tue January 18 2022

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Cable strike lands contractor with £400k fine

4 Jan A construction company and its groundworks subcontractor have been fined after unsafe excavation work left a worker with serious burns to his hand and arm.

High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court heard that, on 2nd August 2018, a  groundworker was preparing the ground to install a post to support an automatic number plate recognition camera (ANPRC) in Twyford, Berkshire.

Initially, the worker dug by hand but on encountering hedgerow roots he started to use a 110V mechanical electric breaker.

He then struck a 415v power cable supplying an adjacent British Telecom building. The electric shock caused burns to one hand and to his other arm.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that site plans for buried cables had not been consulted and a cable avoidance tool had not been used to check for buried services. In addition, there was a lack of properly trained labour and supervision in place for the excavation works.

The principal contractor on site had failed to plan, manage and monitor the excavation works and also failed to provide adequate supervision for the installation project.

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CLC Contractors Limited (the principal contractor), of Unit 2 Northbrook Industrial Estate, Vincent Avenue, Southampton, pleaded guilty to breaching 13 (1) Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. It was were fined £400,000.00 and ordered to pay costs of £5,300.00.

Paul Gale, director of PAG Building Services Ltd of 2 Moore Crescent, Netley Abbey, Southampton, Hampshire pleaded guilty to Section 37(1) Health and Safety Work Act 1974.

Due to the seriousness of the offence the case was referred to Aylesbury Crown Court for sentencing. Paul Gale was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment suspended for 24 months and  150 hour of community service. HSE was awarded costs of £7,200.

HSE inspector John Caboche said after the case: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working. In this instance, readily available buried service records were not consulted, and a cable avoidance tool was not provided to the groundworks team. Utilising these simple steps would have prevented this serious incident.”

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