Driver shocked as crane hits power line

Grant Prior 4 years ago
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A crane operator suffered an electric shock while moving steel sections at a new rugby clubhouse site.

Subcontractor Lee Burge 38, who lives near Bristol, was using the crane to move sections of steel at Trowbridge Rugby Club on 20 March 2013, where a new clubhouse and play area were being built by Ashford Homes (South Western) Ltd.

Swindon Crown Court heard that as Burge started to lift a section of steel using the crane, the hook block came into contact with an 11kV power line and he suffered an electric shock.

Burge was resuscitated but now suffers from long term memory loss.

An HSE investigation established that Ashford Homes had been warned by the electricity company about the presence of overhead power cables, and had received advice on the removal of the power supplies running across the site.

But no measures were put in place by the company to prevent plant and equipment accessing the area beneath the power lines or for the power supply to be diverted or isolated.

Ashford Homes (South Western) Ltd of Merlin Way, Melksham, was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,159 after pleading guilty to breaching safety regulations.

Speaking after sentencing HSE inspector Ian Whittles, said: “Work near overhead power lines should be carefully planned and managed so that risks from contact or close proximity to the lines are adequately controlled.

“Ashford Homes failed to do this, and had been operating a range of machinery capable of coming close to the lines before Mr Burge was seriously injured.

“Luckily Mr Burge was resuscitated, but he now suffers from life changing complications due the electric shock he received.

“He was extremely close to losing his life and this is down to the failure of the construction company to adopt a safe system of work.

“This terrible incident could have been avoided had the company placed physical barriers on site so that no plant or equipment could gain access to either side and directly below the overhead power lines, or if the hive voltage cables were diverted or isolated.”

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