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Lorry driver suffers burns

A lorry driver suffered extensive electrical burns to his head and body whilst delivering material to cover a horse gallop at a farm. As a result he lost one of his arms below the elbow and part of his skull. He also sustained extensive burns to both legs when the raised body of his lorry touched an 11,000 Volt overhead power line. This accident happened 100 metres from where a spraying contractor had been killed by the same overhead power line.

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

Action

The farmer was prosecuted under Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined.

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.

Comment

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 and the precautions that they needed to take to operate safely on the gallop.

The downloadable guidance Avoidance of danger from overhead electric power lines describes how to work safely near overhead power lines in a range of industries. You can also download a free leaflet called Safe working near overhead power lines in agriculture.

Updated 2013-10-25