£100k fine follows power cable strike

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A pharmaceutical firm that decided to take the role of client for construction works has been ordered to pay £100,ooo in fines and costs after a power cable strike burned a worker.

The victim sustained serious, life-changing injuries after striking a 415v electricity cable during work to refurbish a pharmacy in central London.

The labourer struck the underground cable while digging a trench during work to lay a new sewage pipe in July 2013. After suffering burns to his body and throat, the 41-year-old man is unable to work and is now registered disabled.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident in Edgware Road and prosecuted the company in control of the work, Medpharma Ltd, for health and safety breaches. Southwark Crown Court fined Medpharma £60,000 and ordered it to pay £40,000 in costs after being found guilty at an earlier trial to breaching the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

HSE inspector Stephron Baker Holmes said after the hearing: “This case follows a terrible incident that left a man seriously injured, with consequences that he is still living with two years later. Where digging work is liable to disturb underground services it is vital to take suitable and sufficient steps to control the risks… One of the client’s key mistakes in this case was to take on practical control of the work during the project without having the necessary understanding to be able to manage construction work safely.”