Worker ‘could have died’

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A WORKER could have been killed when he cut into a live electricity cable on a Wigan building site, a court heard.

The Health and Safety Executive (prosecuted his employer Wainhomes (North West) Ltd, after an investigation revealed he had been told the cable did not have power running through it.

The 42-year-old, from Bickershaw, was thrown across the room and knocked unconscious by the 230 volt electric shock.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court was told the worker, who has asked not to be named, had suffered serious psychological harm as a result of the incident.

The court heard Wainhomes had been refurbishing an old farmhouse as part of a project to build a cluster of new houses on Smethurst Lane, in Pemberton.

The worker had been employed as a casual labourer, and was working in the cellar on November 12, 2010.

The HSE found that a construction plan, prepared ahead of the building work starting, had identified live electricity cables as a potential danger. But Wainhomes did not check existing cables to see if they were live, or properly isolated.

Inspectors also discovered that a gas pipe, serving a neighbouring property, had been damaged by a digger more than two months earlier.

Wainhomes admitted two breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and one breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The charges were brought after the company failed to plan and manage construction work safely, failed to locate and check existing gas and electricity services, and failed to ensure the safety of workers.

Wainhomes, of Kelvin Close in Birchwood, Warrington, was fined £8,000, and ordered to pay £2,095 in prosecution costs.

After the hearing, Thomas Merry, investigating inspector at HSE, said: “This was a serious incident which has left one worker with psychological scarring, but it could easily have resulted in several people being badly injured, or even killed.

“Building firms carrying out work on sites where there are existing power supplies must make sure they are located and tested before starting work.

“It’s astonishing that Wainhomes failed to do this, especially after a gas pipe was damaged on the site more than two months before the incident, because the company hadn’t carried out the proper checks.”