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House building firm sentenced over worker's electric shock

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

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted his employer, Wain Homes (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 near Leigh, was thrown across the room and knocked unconscious by the 230 volt electric shock. Trafford Magistrates' Court was told the worker has suffered serious psychological harm as a result of the incident.

The court heard Wain Homes had been refurbishing an old farm house 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 on the site and was working in the cellar at the time of the incident on 12 November 2010.

The HSE investigation found that a construction plan, prepared ahead of the building work starting, had identified live electricity cables as being a potential danger. But Wain Homes 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, on 25 August 2010.

Wain Homes (North West) Ltd 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 the construction work safely, failed to locate and check existing gas and electricity services, and failed to ensure the safety of workers.

Wain Homes, of Kelvin Close in Birchwood, Warrington, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £2,095 in prosecution costs on 23 December 2011.


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