After a North London company failed to carry out basic Health and Safety checks, a worker suffered serious burns in an electrical explosion.
The injured man was working on a construction site in Leonard Street, Islington, on April 30, 2010, when the electrical blast occurred. The explosion occurred when a main electrical supply cable to the site was cut during its removal, according to City of London Magistrates’ Court.
The employee was a subcontractor on a large construction project that included the renovation of three adjacent buildings on Leonard Street into apartments and commercial space. The 35-year-old man from East London was a subcontractor for Pineview Interiors Ltd in Havering, London.
A 415 volt 3 phase temporary electrical supply had been provided to the site at the time of the incident. The worker approached his supervisor on the morning of the incident to explain that the electrical cable would need to be removed so that plaster board could be installed, according to the Court.
The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that Pineview Interiors Ltd made very few inquiries as to whether this cable was still live. Pineview employees then proceeded with its removal under the mistaken assumption that the cable being described was one of the old, redundant cables from the previous installation.
The worker attempted to remove the cable by climbing a step ladder with a hammer and chisel. The worker recalls waking up on the floor with another employee putting out flames from the top half of his body after a couple of hits, according to the court. The worker was taken to the hospital with burns covering 30 to 35 percent of his body. He needed a skin graft from his legs to his body and arms. It is expected that his skin will take up to two years to heal.
Pineview Interiors Limited, based in Rainham, Havering, London, pleaded guilty to violating Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay £4,183 in costs.
Dominic Elliss, an HSE inspector, stated following the prosecution: “Refurbishment work continues to account for a significant proportion of serious and fatal injuries reported in the construction industry. The defendant company was aware that the work at 9-15 Leonard Street would necessitate the removal of an electrical head. They were aware, or should have been aware, that this clearly labelled system was still operational at the time they directed their employees to begin work in this location.
“Their employees, who had no electrical training or relevant experience, informed them of the intention to remove this electrical head. The defendant company then permitted these operatives to attempt to remove the live electrical system with only a cursory attempt to confirm that the system was indeed dead.
“As a direct result of the defendant’s failure to identify or control the risk of short circuit their employee suffered extensive burn injuries from the resulting explosion.”