Part of worker’s skull removed after 22,000v electric shock

Grant Prior 12 years ago

Two North East construction companies have been fined after a worker suffered serious burns and an electric shock while working near overhead power lines.

John Dodsworth from Gateshead could have died without immediate emergency treatment and was taken to hospital by air ambulance.

He underwent several operations, including skin grafts and the removal of part of his skull – leaving extensive scarring.

Dodsworth was employed by James Kennedy as a pump operator and was working with Lumsden & Carroll Construction as they carried out modifications to sewers near Cockfield, County Durham in February 2008.

He was working in a compound pouring concrete into a mould to cast a sewer chamber lid. The pump had a 12 metre long boom to allow the hose to be positioned where required.

After the pour was finished the operator swung the boom round to return it to a parked position. But as he lowered it, it came into contact with overhead power lines crossing the site carrying 22,000 volts.

This caused  Dodsworth to receive a serious electric shock, suffering internal and external burns including to his hands, head, chest and legs.

Darlington magistrates heard Dodsworth still suffers constant pain which may be permanent and requires drug control meaning he may not be able to return to work.

An HSE investigation revealed that Lumsden & Carroll Construction could have either located the work compound elsewhere, so they did not have to work near the power lines at all, or used different equipment, not capable of coming into contact with the power lines.

After the case, HSE Inspector Martin Smith said: “Construction plant coming into contact with overhead power lines continues to be a frequent cause of incidents, which are often fatal. Mr Dodsworth is lucky to be alive and will have to live with the after effects of his injuries for the rest of his life.

“If it had been identified that working near the power lines was absolutely essential, then Lumsden & Carroll Construction Ltd and James Kennedy should have planned the work so that the pump was used sufficiently far from the power lines to prevent the incident and placed physical barriers and warnings at the site to control the work.

“James Kennedy should have made enquiries to ensure that the plant he sent was suitable for the site and that precautions had been taken against well-known risks.”

Lumsden & Carroll Construction was fined a total of £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,643.07 costs. James Kennedy,  who hired out the pump equipment, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,821.53 costs.

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