Self-employed steel erecter Mark Rushbrook, was constructing two new poultry units at a farm in Swineshead, north Bedfordshire. He was using a scissor lift to clad the gable end of a steel frame when it came into contact with a power cable and he suffered an 11 kilovolt electrical shock.
 
Mr Rushbrook, 24, from King’s Lynn in Norfolk, sustained burns to his stomach and hands, and internal muscle damage in the incident, which happened in June 2009..
 
The Health and Safety Executive charged a number of parties after its subsequent investigation found the gable end of the structure was within just 4.3 metres of an overhead power line.
 
Luton Crown Court heard that the defendants had failed to identify the potential risks of working near overhead voltage lines and had not put necessary precautions in place, including notifying the relevant authorities.
 
Farm owner C and P Bird Brothers Ltd admitted breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, for which it was fined £20,000, and Regulation 21(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, for which it was fined 20,000.
 
The firm was also ordered to pay £5,500 costs.
 
 
Peter Bird, a director of C & P Bird Brothers Ltd admitted breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974  and was fined £5,000 with £2,500 costs.
 
Morspan Construction Ltd,  which designed and manufactured the steel framewas also the main contractor and admitted breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc for which it was fined £30,000. The company, based in Newport, Gwent, also admitted breaching  Regulation 19(1)(c) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 for which it was fined 30,000.
 
It was alsoordered to pay £5,250 costs.
 
Michael Skayman, a self-employed steel erector and sub-contractor,  admitted breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc and was fined £25,000 plus £4,750 costs.
 
HSE Inspector John Berezansky said:  “As construction work is a high-risk activity with significant numbers of major and fatal injuries, good planning, communication and cooperation are needed constantly. Unfortunately, all the defendants in this case failed to achieve this.
 
“That Mr Rushbrook’s injuries were not fatal is only a matter of luck. A lax attitude to health and safety is not acceptable, especially when so many incidents are completely avoidable by taking common sense actions and precautions. The safety standards for working near overhead power lines are well-known and readily available.”
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