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7th February 2011

Worker Breaks Back In Fall After Electric Shock

A subcontractor fell more than five meters from a crane ladder after suffering an electric shock at one of the UK’s largest timber merchants, a court heard.

The Mechanical fitter suffered a catalogue of injuries including a broken vertebra as a result of the incident.

The Cambridge-based building and timber merchants which operate from 22 locations across the East of England, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the incident.

The subcontractor had been employed by the company to fix an overhead crane system at its timber engineering workshop in Suffolk. He was climbing a ladder to access the crane when he made contact with a live conductor. He fell 18ft and landed on the concrete floor, sustaining a fractured vertebra, a broken ankle, smashed heel, and burns to his hands.

The conductor the subcontractor touched was the main power channel to the overhead crane. It carried three phase 415v electricity but was not marked and had not been isolated prior to work commencing.

The company admitted breaching Regulation 4(3) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, failing to ensure work was carried out in such a manner as to not give rise to danger. The firm was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £4,344.70 in costs.

The HSE Inspector involved in the case said:

“It is essential for companies to ensure that work undertaken on their behalf by subcontractors is properly managed and safe systems of work agreed prior to work commencing.”

The Company has admitted that the task was handed over to the contractor without discussion as to the way it was to be undertaken or any precautions that may be needed prior to it being started.

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