UK Power Networks has been fined £1 million by Chelmsford Crown Court for the failure to prevent a fatal electrocution accident in which a runner died.
On 24th July 2012, Dr James Kew from Ashton in Essex was out on a training run with three colleagues from the Saffron Striders Running Club. As he entered a corn field alongside a public footpath in Newport, Essex, he ran into an 11,000 volt electricity cable that was suspended 1.5 metres from the ground.
James was killed instantly when he completed the circuit from the cable to the ground, while his colleagues suffered minor burn injuries. An inquest into the fatal electrocution accident heard that a porcelain insulator that should have secured the cable to a wooden pole had disintegrated, causing the cable to fall from its usual height of 5.5 metres to just chest height.
The inquest also heard that the fallen cable had been reported to the National Grid and UK Power Networks thirty minutes prior to the fatal electrocution accident. However, rather than cut the electricity supply to that part of the grid, UK Power Networks sent out an engineer to investigate the dangerous cable. Tragically, the engineer arrived twenty minutes too late to prevent the fatal electrocution accident.
A second investigation in James´ death by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that UK Power Networks failed to fully assess the risk of injury posed to the public and control the risk. The company was prosecuted for breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 – a charge to which UK Power Networks pleaded guilty to when the case was heard by Chelmsford Crown Court earlier this week.
After hearing evidence from HSE inspectors, the court fined UK Power Networks £1 million for failing to prevent a fatal electrocution accident and ordered the company to pay £153,000 costs. Speaking after the verdict had been announced, HSE inspector Paul Carter said: “Dr Kew’s family remains completely devastated by their loss and witnesses to this incident have suffered severe trauma and stress-related illness. The incident was entirely preventable”.