Two Norfolk companies have been fined a total of £214,400 for health and safety failings that led to an employee suffering workplace electrocution injuries.
On 29th April 2014, Jonathan Howes was working a drilling rig on Lodge Farm in Felmingham, Norfolk, when the mast of the rig came into contact with an overhead power cables carrying 11kV of electricity. The electricity travelled down the mast and burned Jonathan severely.
Jonathan was taken to hospital by ambulance, where he was treated for his workplace electrocution injuries. He had extensive burns to his scalp, arms, legs and feet, and loss two toes in the accident. He is still recovery from his injuries and has been unable to return to work.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Authority (HSE) found that neither Jonathan´s employers nor the owners of the farm had taken effective precautions to prevent work equipment coming into contact with the overhead power cables during the drilling work in preparation for crop irrigation.
The HSE prosecuted T. W. Page Ltd (Jonathan´s employers) and L. F. Papworth Ltd (the owners of the farm) for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Earlier this week, both companies pleaded guilty to the charges at Norwich Crown Court.
After hearing about Jonathan´s workplace electrocution injuries and the measures that should have been put in place to prevent injury, judges fined T. W. Page Ltd £80,400 with costs of £6,596, and L. F. Papworth Ltd was fined £134,000 with £6,484 costs.
Speaking after the fines had been issued, HSE Inspector Jessica Churchyard said: “This tragic incident has had devastating consequences for Jonathan Howes and his family. “Similar incidents involving overhead power line strikes remain all too common in Great Britain and are almost always entirely avoidable.
“Duty holders planning, organising and carrying out such work must ensure that site-specific risks are identified and controlled. Where hazardous electrical conductors need to be kept live, workers and equipment must be kept at a safe distance from them. Here, no effective precautions were implemented and workers were put at potentially lethal risk with Mr Howes suffering injuries which will affect him for the rest of his life.”