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Electrician was injured touching live equipment

An apprentice electrician was severely injured when he touched live equipment whilst doing work to install ceiling fans in a substation. His employer failed to adequately control the system of work where there were exposed live bus bars. There was no safe system of work, the supervision was inadequate, and the management of the activity was left to an electrician who had insufficient experience to do the job safely. No attempt was made to get the electricity distribution company to screen the live equipment.

Action

The employer of the apprentice electrician was prosecuted under the Health and Safety At Work etc. Act 1974, Section 2, Sub Section 1 and fined £30,000. The supervising electrician and owner of the substation were also prosecuted under the Health and Safety At Work etc. Act 1974, Section 3, Sub Section 1.

Comment

Before allowing work to start, those in control should identify the hazards present, the risks posed by the hazards, and the control measures needed to reduce the risks so far as is reasonably practicable. They should implement the control measures in the system of work and communicate this with the workers. The continuing effectiveness of the control measures should be assessed throughout the work and the work should be stopped if the control measures fail to control the risk.

Those in control of work activities should ensure that workers have suitable competence to do the work safely.

The downloadable HSE leaflet Controlling the risks in the workplace provides guidance on how to produce risk assessments that are suitable for each work activity. The downloadable leaflet Electrical switchgear and safety and the downloadable booklet Keeping electrical switchgear safe provide guidance on safe working near electrical switchgear. The downloadable HSE booklet Electricity at work - safe working practices provides information on how to select and instruct competent workers.

Updated 2012-08-08