Worker suffers from burns whilst using a road breaker

A worker suffered 16% deep thermal burns after striking an 11,000 Volt electricity cable whilst excavating a hole with a road breaker. He had not been provided with underground service plans or underground cable detecting equipment. His employer failed to take suitable and sufficient steps to prevent risk of injury from underground cables whilst excavating and identify the unsafe working practices being carried out. The company reacted positively to the accident and took remedial action.


The employer was prosecuted under the Construction (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996, Regulation 12 (8) and pleaded guilty at an early stage. They were fined the maximum fine for this offence after the magistrate decided not to pass the case up to Crown Court. The injured worker was awarded compensation and HSE was awarded costs in full.


  1. The company should have provided plans of the underground services to the worker.
  2. The company should have provided underground cable detecting equipment.
  3. The company should have ensured that the worker used a safe system of work whilst excavating.

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