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Knowsley cable firm fined over severe electric shock

Date:
25 April 2013

A cable manufacturer has been fined after an employee suffered a severe electric shock at its factory in Knowsley.

Medics had to resuscitate the worker on the way to hospital when his heart stopped beating as the result of a cardiac arrest. He also sustained serious burns to his arms and hands.

Tratos Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) today (25 April 2013) after an investigation found the safety lock on the entrance to a high-voltage testing area at the factory had been removed.

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court was told the 28-year-old, from Hindley near Wigan, who does not wish to be named, had been working in an area of the factory used to test cables at voltages of up to 2,000 volts.

However workers at the factory had been struggling to shut the door leading to the testing pen after one of the hinges became damaged. They altered the locking mechanism for the door which tricked the safety system into believing it was locked shut. This meant power could be applied to the pen with the door still open.

The worker suffered a severe electric shock when he disturbed one of the cables in the testing pen while a current was being fed through it.

Tratos Ltd, of School Lane, Knowlsley, was fined £15,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of its employees. The company was also ordered to pay £4,206 in prosecution costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Bruce Jones said:

"Workers shouldn’t have been able to gain access to the testing pen while electricity was being fed through the cables, but the safety system that prevents this from happening was overridden.

"Tratos Ltd’s employees hadn’t been given any information or training on what to do if the testing pen became damaged, and decided to remove the safety mechanism in the door so that they could continue to test cables.

"The company should have ensured that effective health and safety management was in place not only to provide adequate supervision but also safe working procedures for employees to follow. Had this happened, the life-threatening injuries suffered by an employee could have been avoided."

Information on electrical safety is available at www.hse.gov.uk/electricity.

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. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees."

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