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Machine operator killed whilst clearing blockage from a mail wrapping machine

A machine operator was killed by an electric shock whilst attempting to clear a blockage from a mail wrapping machine. He pressed the emergency stop, lifted a guard, and reached into the open back panel. Whilst freeing packages, he touched the exposed wires on a transformer powering the machine. The electrical wires were not insulated and no risk assessment had been done.

Action

The company was prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, Section 2, the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, Regulation 7, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992, Regulation 3. The case was referred to Crown Court for sentence. This reflected the severity of the case and took mitigating factors into account. The company received a £30,000 fine.

Comment

Electrical conductors should be insulated or positioned in such a way as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, danger. Those in control of work activities should ensure that electrical machinery, equipment and installations are maintained in a state that minimises, so far as is reasonably practicable, the risks arising from electricity.

The downloadable Memorandum of guidance on the Electricity at Work Regulations provides guidance on the legal requirements of maintaining electrical equipment and machinery.

Updated 2010-09-22