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Mon May 27 2024

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Contractor fined after worker scorched

21 Mar A Lancashire M&E contractor has been fined after a worker sustained serious burns in an electrical flash.

Carl Lowery
Carl Lowery

Carl Lowery was working on new apartment blocks at The Crescent on Hulme Street in Salford on 12th May 2020 when an electrical flash blew him backwards and burnt his arms and face.

Then 37 years old, he require multiple surgeries and a skin graft from his thigh.

He had been working alongside a colleague at SRE Cabling & Jointing Limited, with the company subcontracted by Aberla M&E Limited to carry out cabling and jointing works on the new apartments.

The pair were working on the building’s main switchboard, with nearby bus bars left live with electricity and covered by a guard panel.

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However, a gap in the guard panel led to a nut rolling behind and coming into contact with the live bus bars, causing an electrical flash which blew Carl Lowery backwards and burnt his arms and face.

A Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Aberla M&E had incorrectly assumed the guard panel was sufficient separation of the workers from the live bus bars. The company had failed to take into account a gap in the guard panel, which risked nuts, bolts, tools and even fingers coming into contact with the bus bars. There was also a failure to issue a permit to work (PTW) on or near live components, which resulted in the main switchboard being left live. There was also a distinct lack of live works monitoring by the company, with the electrical site manager rarely visiting the work area.

Aberla M&E Limited, of The Parklands, Bolton, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 in costs at Manchester Magistrates’ Court.

HSE inspector Lisa Bailey said: “This incident has had life-changing consequences for Carl and his family. It could have been avoided if the company had actively monitored and managed procedures, to identify risks and prevent incidents. Working with electricity is a high-risk activity and safety must be a priority. Proper planning to ensure that risks are eliminated at system design stage is essential.”

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