Worker suffers from burns whilst using a pneumatic impact mole

A 42 year old ganger/labourer sustained burns to his chest, arms, neck, back and thigh (just under 50% of total skin area) when he struck an underground 11,000 Volt electric cable with a pneumatic impact mole. He died 9 days later in hospital from pulmonary oedema secondary to burns ("shocked lung"). The site rules were not being enforced by the Principal Contractor despite high risk work being undertaken.


The Principal Contractor was prosecuted under the Health and Safety At Work etc. Act 1974, Section 2, Sub Section 1 and fined £50,000.


The Principal Contractor is responsible for ensuring that site rules are being obeyed during work activities. The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994, Regulation 16 (1)(b) state: The principal contractor appointed for any project shall- ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that every contractor, and every employee at work in connection with the project complies with any rules contained in the health and safety plan.

The downloadable HSE booklet A guide to the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996' gives guidance on the responsibilities of those involved in construction work. The downloadable HSE booklet Avoiding danger from underground services gives guidance on how to work near underground services.

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Updated 2023-01-09