Employee killed whilst changing an electrode
An employee received a fatal electric shock whilst changing a welding
rod during arc-welding work inside a metal silo. It was found that there
was a voltage of no more than 86 Volts ac between the welding rod and
the silo metalwork when no welding was taking place. There was an unsafe
system of work in this hazardous environment. It was found during the
investigation that the electrical equipment in use at the time of the
accident was damaged but this was found not to be contributory to the
The employer was prosecuted under the Health and Safety At Work etc.
Act 1974, Section 2, Sub Section 1, and The Management of Health and
Safety at Work Regulations 1992 (No 3) paragraph 1 and entered a guilty
plea at magistrates court. They were later fined £250,000 at Crown
This incident shows that even relatively low voltages can deliver a
fatal electric shock, particularly where a person cannot easily escape
the shock, and that arc welding equipment should be switched off when
rods are being changed.
Electrical work in hazardous environments should not be carried out
until a risk assessment has been done and control measures identified
and implemented. HSE has published guidance covering many of the common
hazardous environments such as confined spaces, where there is a hazard
from earthed surfaces, wet places, explosive atmospheres, deep trenches,
near sewage etc. Work should not commence where there is doubt regarding
the effectiveness of any control measure.
Read the HSE guidance
Controlling the risks in the workplace
and Electrical Safety
and You .