Demolition worker turned into fireball

Grant Prior 12 years ago
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A contractor and an architect have been fined £60,000 after a demolition worker was engulfed in flames when he cut through a live 11,000 volt cable at an electricity substation in Worcester.

Birmingham firm DSM Demolition Ltd and Halesowen-based Gould Singleton Architects Ltd (GSA) were sentenced last Friday following the incident on July 14 2006.

Worcester Crown Court heard that DSM was demolishing a metal casting foundry in Wainwright Road, Worcester, when Lee Harris, 35, was told to cut through a cable, which was connected to a switching unit on a substation on the site, which was still live.

As the machine he was using to cut through the cable came into contact with the live conductors, he was engulfed by flames, suffering 20% burns, which have left him with permanent disabilities and required skin grafts.

Neither planning supervisor GSA nor demolition contractor DSM had made adequate checks to ensure that the electricity on the site had been disconnected.

GSA had told DSM that all services to the site had been terminated when actually the power supply remained live.

DSM should have ensured that the electrical services had been disconnected before starting demolition, but failed to do so.

DSM Demolition Ltd, of Arden Road, Birmingham was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £100,000 costs.

Gould Singleton Architects Ltd, of Whitehall Road, Halesowen was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £20,872 costs for breached of the CDM regulations.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Tariq Khan said: “Neither of the two companies prosecuted today had made adequate checks to ensure that the power supply to the cable required to be cut by Mr Harris had been terminated.

“Had they done so then this incident would never have happened and Mr Harris would not have suffered such serious injuries.

“Construction, design and management co-ordinators must ensure that the information they pass on to contractors which could affect the safety of their workers is correct.

“Likewise, demolition contractors must follow safe systems of work at all times and ensure they check information provided to them about services on site with independent, competent sources.”

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