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Lorry drivers and overhead power lines (OHPL)

This is the first of two cases involving lorry drivers and overhead power lines (OHPL).

Summary 1

A lorry driver suffered extensive electrical burns to his head and body whilst delivering material to cover a horse gallop to a farm. As a result he lost one of his arms be-low the elbow and part of his skull. He also sustained extensive burns to both legs when the raised body of his lorry touched an 11 kV overhead power line. This accident happened on the gallop 100m from where a previous fatality had occurred on the same OHPL, involving a spraying contractor.

There is no evidence that the power lines were under specified height, or that they were defective in anyway.

Action

The farmer was prosecuted under Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £5,000 plus costs of £2,983.09

Following the accident he stated that he was so traumatised that he would no longer be carrying on business. It should be noted that the injured person was fully aware of the overhead power lines and was partly responsible for his own accident.

Advice

The farmer should have:

  1. ensured that no vehicle that was to go on the gallop had the capability to elevate or otherwise contact power lines or
  2. erected a simple goal post type barrier at the start of the gallop to which drivers of high tipping/elevating vehicles could have used to gauge heights and
  3. ensured that drivers of high or tipping/elevating vehicles were properly notified of the locations of overhead power lines (OHPL's) and the precautions that they needed to take to operate safely on theĀ gallop that had been used for its original construction.

Summary 2

Another prosecution was taken against a farmer who saw a driver unloading in an unsafe manner near the OHPL but failed to warn or stop him. The body of the tipper lorry struck the power cables whilst he was unloading. The driver received an electric shock and fell unconscious, sustaining burns and a broken jaw.

Action

The farmer was prosecuted under S3(2) of the Health & Safety at Work for failing to take steps to bring a visiting drivers attention to OHPL or to provide warning signs. He was fined £2,000 plus costs of £6,631.33.

2014-07-03