An engineering firm has been fined for breaching safety regulations after a sub-contractor driving an excavator split a live overhead power line. Plant operator Raymond Harper was driving the excavator up a slope with its arms raised while working on site in Bathgate in West Lothian on 25 June 2011, Livingston Sheriff Court heard. The arms came into contact with the cable carrying 11,000 volts, which then split and landed close to other workers.
Electric shock injury danger
Mr Harper stayed in his cab, but if he had tried to get out he could have suffered electric shock injuries, which could have killed him. The engineering company, George Leslie Ltd, was responsible for the site where groundworks and water pipe repairs were underway.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation revealed that the firm had not done enough to control the risks of workers coming into contact with the power line. The court heard tht Mr Harper had not been given an induction before working on the site, which would have informed him of hazards like the line. The HSE told the court that George Leslie Ltd had failed to properly assess the risks to drivers, to provide safe manoeuvring areas for vehicles and to provide safe working systems and maintain its machinery.
The incident came after George Leslie Ltd, based at Barrhead in Glasgow, was fined £25,000 in 2004 after a worker died following a fall from height, the court heard. George Leslie Ltd was fined £6,600 after admitting breaching the Health and Safety Act 1974.
Lucky escape for worker
Once the case was concluded, HSE inspector Ritchie McCrae said it was lucky that no one was killed or seriously injured in the “entirely preventable” incident. He said that George Leslie Ltd should have had better plans and controls on the site to manage the risks posed by the power line and to make sure the workers were safe.