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Government contractor fined £600k after subcontractor suffers life changing injuries.

A highways contractor has come under scrutiny after one of it’s subcontractors, who was employed to replace a traffic light pole, was electrocuted. The Health and Safety Executive decided to investigate the firm after the employee was severely burned in a workplace accident.The Court heard how the accident happened after a subcontractor was digging a hole to replace a traffic light in a city centre. His breaker touched an underground cable and sent 11,000 volts through his body causing him to catch fire.

He sustained deep burns to most of his body including his hands, legs, chest, face, arms and stomach. He had to be airlifted to a specialist burns trauma unit where he was put into an induced coma for two weeks before being moved to another hospital to recover and recuperate. His injuries are life changing and he is unlikely to return to work.

The HSE investigation advised the Crown Court that a report had been carried out, as to the whereabouts of dangerous cables, by a cable avoidance specialist but that this information was not passed on adequately to the subcontractor working on the road.

The HSE inspector commented: “Those notes identified the very cable ……. cut through, but this information was not properly communicated,”

The HSE’s investigation also pointed out that the ‘permit to dig’ had expired and that the contractor should have authorised a re-scanning of the road to check for any new cabling or potential risks.

The company, who also work for numerous County Council’s as a highways contractor was found guilty to breaching Regulation 25(4) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and the judge fined them £600,000. They also incurred legal costs of £15,498.

The HSE inspector on the case said: “This man suffered life changing injuries as a result of this incident. He’s not been able to return to work, he still can’t use his hands properly and has been left both physically and mentally scarred by what happened.

“Had …… given adequate information to the team working on site, and had …… ensured the work was properly planned and supervised, this incident could have been avoided.

“This case should act as a reminder to local authorities and their contractors of the risks of working underground and the danger of severe electric shocks.”


Accidents at work can be embarrassing, stressful and in worst cases, life changing!  We often blame ourselves when they happen but were you given the right tools, information and equipment to do the job safely? Was the job risk assessed and properly supervised? Were you given the proper training to do the job? Are all the tools and machinery maintained and fit for purpose?

If you are unsure if you are at fault or not then speak to one of our specialist solicitors who find out for you and will handle every aspect of your work accident compensation claim, providing the support and expertise you deserve.

We offer a free initial interview in order to review your specific circumstances and assess the viability of your personal injury claim.

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