Northampton Crown Court heard that on 9th March 2016 a driver employed by Mick George Ltd was emptying a load of soil from his tipper vehicle at a site in Northampton. Because of overhead power lines (OPLs), the company already identified the need for permanent protection structures, in the form of goalposts, but after an initial delay only one was installed. To empty the final remains of the load from his vehicle, the driver pulled forward with the body raised and the vehicle touched, or came close to touching, a 33kV OPL. The tipper vehicle suffered minor damage but the driver was unhurt.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) showed that Mick George should have assessed the risks from OPLs more rigorously and realised its system of work was inadequate to reduce the risk of tipper vehicles striking an OPL.
Mick George Ltd of Lancaster Way, Huntingdon, pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 25(3) of Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM). The company was fined £566,670 and ordered to pay costs of £9,000.
HSE inspector Stuart Parry said after the sentencing: “Every year in the UK, two people are killed and many more injured when mechanical plant and machinery comes into contact or close proximity to OPLs. This was a very serious incident and it is fortunate nobody was injured as a result.
“A suitable and sufficient assessment would have identified the need to contact the distribution network operator, Western Power, to request the OPLs were diverted underground prior to the commencement of construction. If this was not reasonably practicable, Mick George Ltd should have erected goalposts either side of the OPLs to warn drivers. “