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Company fined after worker sustains serious burns

01-03-2012

An employee of an Oxfordshire-based engineering company sustained life-threatening burns after striking a high voltage electric cable during construction work on the new Crossrail railway.

Fugro Engineering Services Ltd was appointed principal contractor to deliver a series of ground investigations, known as Package 16, as part of the multi-billion pound project to connect Maidenhead, Shenfield and Abbey Wood to central London.

At a sentencing hearing, the Central Criminal Court heard that on 7 February 2008, a Fugro employee was using a hydraulic breaker to create an inspection pit for a borehole outside 1 Hanover Street, London, when he struck a high voltage electric cable.

The employee, who was 63 at the time of the incident, suffered severe injuries as he was treated for 60 per cent burns.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the system of work in place at the time of the incident did not ensure that the roles of those involved in the project were clearly defined. Effective lines of communication were not established and appropriate training in safe digging techniques was not provided to operatives.

Furthermore, key safety documentation showing the presence of the cable was not kept at the borehole location. Although the site was scanned with a cable avoidance tool to detect underground services, no markings were made on the road to indicate where cables were found.

Fugro Engineering Services Ltd, of Wallingford, Oxfordshire, had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in relation to the incident. The company was fined £55,000 and ordered to pay £30,000 in costs.

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