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Electricity cable cut by gardening firm leads to fine

Electricity cable cut by gardening firm leads to fine

Friday 01 March 2019

Electricity cable cut by gardening firm leads to fine

A gardening firm has been fined £5000 for health and safety violations which resulted in a cut electricity cable and left an employee in hospital.

Another Level were represented in Guernsey's Magistrate's Court yesterday by Ricardo Miguel, who had to answer two charges against the Health and Safety at Work ordinance (1987).

On 19 June 2018 staff working for Another Level gardening and landscaping firm - which have been operating for a number of years in the island employing 14 people- began work installing an electric gate at a property in the Vale.

A small kango digger was used to create a 30 mm hole for the use of the gate post which cut through an underground electricity services cable. The man operating the drill was taken to hospital suffering burns to his face.  

Advocate Rory Calderwood for the prosecution gave evidence from national guidelines which state that obtaining a map detailing underground service cables, as Miguel had done in this case, was not sufficient preparation for undergoing such site work.

Guernsey Electricity

Pictured: Guernsey Electricity engineers were called to the scene where they found the broken cable had been left unattended. 

"It does not prevent the possibility of unrecorded cables, or long cables may snake around. The map may have changed in scale if taken from a digital source. The plans provide basic information to conduct a thorough site survey using a suitable detecting device," Advocate Calderwood said. 

The court heard that Another Level did not use a cable detecting device in this instance. Similar work had taken place in February 2017 so it was thought the plans would be reliable. The court heard that there were health and safety procedure put in place by the company to deal with incidents such as these. 

The owner of the property who was around 10 ft away on the scene remembered hearing an explosion from where the work was taking place.

"The man operating the drill said in his own statement he saw singe marks on his gloves and vest and treated his face for burns at the site with water before being taken to hospital," he said.

In the man's statement he described the burns as similar to sun burn in severity. He has since returned to work and didn't want to pursue charges against the defendant. The court was told that Guernsey Electricity were called to the scene but when they arrived the workmen and tools were no longer at the scene. In leaving the scene unattended, the court heard, the cable was at risk of arcing, causing an explosion or flaming. 

Judge Graeme McKerrell fined Miguel £5000 for the two offences.  

"This has been described as a small job however the size is in many ways irrelevant. [The kango operator] is lucky the injuries were not more severe.

"It only takes one spark to start a fire and it only takes one hole to break a cable. I accept work had been taken out on the area previously and that the workman was experienced. However with experience comes complacency, that's why training should be kept up to date, complacency is unacceptable." he said. 



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