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Developer prosecuted after lorry hit power lines

Date:
2 July 2013

A Kettering developer has been fined after a tipper lorry hit overhead power lines, cutting the electricity supply to local homes.

The lorry, belonging to Hazelton Homes (Midlands) Ltd, was delivering stone at Old Hall Close, Cottesmore, on 28 March 2012 when the raised tipper body struck the power lines above, bringing them to the ground.

The strike caused a power cut to 11 homes nearby which were without electricity for three hours.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the company at Leicester Magistrates’ Court today (2 July).

Magistrates were told that Hazelton Homes (Midlands) Ltd of Rushton, Kettering, failed to make sure that suitable warning signs for vehicles and suspended protections were provided.

However the court also heard that two and a half weeks before the incident, the company’s quantity surveyor warned about the dangers of overhead power lines and the need for barriers and warning signs.

HSE found the power lines had not been made dead or redirected away from the access road. Warning signs and suspended protections had not been erected and there were no procedures in place for receiving deliveries.

When HSE inspectors re-visited the site on 6 November 2012, they found the signs warning of the presence of overhead power lines had been removed, as well as the goalpost, which sits across the road on the entrance to the site, warning of a height restriction, on one side of the overhead power lines.

Hazelton Homes (Midlands) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 34(2) (c) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined £8,000 with costs of £4,214.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Linda-Jane Rigby said:

"This incident was entirely preventable and arose from a clear failure to assess and manage the risks associated with the presence of overhead power lines.

"The need for goalposts and warning signs had been drawn to the attention of Hazleton Homes (Midlands) Ltd shortly before this incident but the directors failed to put the necessary measures in place. Once remedial steps were taken, the company failed to ensure they remained in place.

"A number of people die every year when they accidentally make contact with electrical cables. It was only a matter of luck that no-one was seriously injured or killed in this incident."

For more information about the Health and Safety Executive’s work with the construction industry, go to www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/industry/construction/

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Regulation 34(2)(c) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations states: "Where there is a risk from electric power cables,, suitable warning notices and (i) barriers suitable for excluding work equipment which is not needed, or (ii) where vehicles need to pass beneath the cables, suspended protections, or (iii) in either case, measures providing an equivalent level of safety, shall be provided or (in the case of measures) taken.

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