Construction company and its groundworks contractor fined for unsafe excavation work

A construction company and its groundworks contractor have been fined for unsafe excavation work which resulted in a worker suffering serious burns to his hand and arm.

High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court heard that, on 2nd August 2018, a  groundworker was readying the ground to fit a post to hold an Automatic Number Plate Recognition Camera (ANPRC), at Twyford near Reading, Berkshire.

At first, the worker dug by hand, but, because of the ground conditions and several hedgerow roots he began to use  an 110V mechanical electric breaker.
The incident happened when the groundworker hit a power cable supplying a British Telecommunications building. As the voltage of the cable was 415v, the groundworker received an electric shock. He sustained burns to one hand and to his opposite arm.

An Investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that site plans for underground cables had not been consulted and a cable avoidance tool had not been used to check for buried cables ahead of the works being carried out. There was also a lack of adequately trained workers and supervision for the excavation works.

The principal contractor on site had failed to plan, manage and monitor the excavation works and also failed to supply sufficient supervision for the ANPR installation works.

CLC Contractors Limited (the Principal Contractor), of Unit 2 Northbrook Industrial Estate, Vincent Avenue, Southampton, SO16 6PB pleaded guilty to breaching 13 (1) Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and were fined £400,000.00 and ordered to pay costs of £5,300.00.

Paul Gale, Company Director of PAG Building Services Ltd of 2 Moore Crescent, Netley Abbey, Southampton, Hampshire pleaded guilty to Section 37(1) Health and Safety Work Act 1974.

The case was referred to Aylesbury Crown Court for sentencing due to the seriousness of the offence. Paul Gale was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment suspended for 24 months and  150 hour of community service. HSE was awarded costs of £7,200.