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Tue March 09 2021

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Crane operator electrocuted by overhead line

27 Nov 14 A house-building firm has been fined £20,000 after a crane operator was electrocuted by a power line contact on one if its sites.

Melksham-based Ashford Homes (South Western) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching construction rules and was ordered to pay £5,159 costs on top of the £20,000 fine.

Lee Burge, 38, from Bristol, was operating a mobile crane to move steel sections at Trowbridge Rugby Club on 20th March 2013 when his hook block made contact with an 11kV overhead power line, Swindon Crown Court heard yesterday.

He was airlifted to hospital and resuscitated but now suffers from long term memory loss.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that Ashford Homes had been warned by the electricity company about the presence of overhead power cables, and had received advice on the removal of the power supplies running across the site.

However, it put no measures in place to prevent plant operating beneath the power lines or for the power supply to be isolated.

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HSE inspector Ian Whittles said: “Work near overhead power lines should be carefully planned and managed so that risks from contact or close proximity to the lines are adequately controlled.

"Ashford Homes failed to do this, and had been operating a range of machinery capable of coming close to the lines before Mr Burge was seriously injured.

“Luckily Mr Burge 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 the construction company to adopt a safe system of work.

“This terrible incident could have been avoided had the company placed physical barriers on site so that no plant or equipment could gain access to either side and directly below the overhead power lines, or if the hive voltage cables were diverted or isolated.”

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