Contractor receives injuries when switchgear was not isolated

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The company employed contract workers to undertake repairs and improvements to their paper manufacturing plant when production was stopped. During this time, an employee of an electrical contractor undertook an inspection of 11,000 Volt switchgear with the authorisation of the company. The switchgear had not been isolated and this resulted in him receiving injuries from the live equipment. Following this incident, employees of the factory occupier entered and worked on and in close proximity to this live, exposed 11,000 Volt equipment without the competence to do so.

Action

The factory occupier was prosecuted under the Health and Safety At Work etc. Act 1974, Section 2, Sub Section 1, and the Health and Safety At Work etc. Act 1974, Section 3, Sub Section 1, and received a £12,500 fine.

Comment

Workers should be given enough information to allow them to work safely. This may take the form of a toolbox talk before work commences for lower risk activities, or may require a formal permit to work system for higher risk activities. Workers should also be assessed to identify if they are competent to do the work.

The downloadable HSE booklet Electricity at work – safe working practices provides information on how to select and instruct competent workers, and to make decisions regarding live working.

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