Manufacturer Fined £200,000 after Fatal Electrocution: Ensure Electrical Work is Carried Out Safely!

A food manufacturing company has been ordered to pay £205,403 following the death of a man who had been working on an electrical installation. The company pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Read on to find out what happened and what you can learn from the case.

Manufacturer Fined £200,000 after Fatal Electrocution: Ensure Electrical Work is Carried Out Safely!

Sub-contractor Bradley Watts was lagging pipes at Natures Way Foods on 2 June 2011 when he had fatal contact with a 240V live cable, which was part of an electrical system that had allegedly been decommissioned. The redundant cabling had not been removed in a systematic and controlled way, thus the ‘live’ nature of the remaining cabling was unknown. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had failed to carry out essential checks of the redundant cables to ensure they were dead.

What You Can Learn from This Case

Anyone can be exposed to the dangers of electricity in the workplace caused by cables, faulty equipment, machinery, inadequate training and equipment and unsafe working methods. As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure electrical work is carried out safely.

5 Top Tips for Working Safely with Electricity

  1. Begin by ensuring that employees engaged in work activities on or near electrical equipment implement safe systems of work, have the technical knowledge, training and experience to carry out the work safely, and are provided with suitable tools, test equipment and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  2. You must carry out a risk assessment in relation to work on electrical systems. When assessing the risk of injury from electrical testing work, you will need to consider the level of voltage, charge or current and the nature of the work environment. Injuries during electrical testing and fault finding occur when conductors at dangerous voltages are exposed. You can minimise this risk if testing is done while the equipment is isolated from any source of power supply, although this may not always be possible. Ultimately, live working should only be carried out where it is unreasonable to work dead.
  3. Other methods of reducing the risk of electrical shock include: testing at reduced, non-hazardous voltages and currents; using interlocked test enclosures in which the unit under test is contained; using temporary insulation; creating an area which is as earth-free as practicable; using isolated transformers connected to the mains supply; and using 30mA residual current devices (RCDs).
  4. Ensure that there is no chance a source of energy can be deliberately or inadvertently reconnected while being worked on by using a locking out procedure or Permit to Work and place warning notices at the points of isolation. If the work is to be carried out on or near exposed conductors, the conductors should be proven dead by means of using test equipment before the work commences.
  5. Remember to carry out an assessment of first aid needs. Some electrical incidents are also reportable under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).

Make sure you take steps to secure electrical safety before an accident occurs. Prevention is the key to saving lives.