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Company director receives suspended prison sentence after lorry touches overhead power lines

Date:
2 November 2017

The director of a London-based waste contractor has been fined and handed a suspended sentence after a lorry contacted 132kV overhead power lines (OHLs) in North London.

Southwark Crown Court heard how, on 10 June 2013, Hanly Waste Services Limited had been contracted to construct a bund (an earth hill) on a farm, directly underneath overhead power lines. A lorry tipping on top of the bund came into contact with the overhead power lines causing arcing which damaged both the wires and the lorry. Fortunately, the driver was unhurt, although contact with power lines can result in death.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that the company put no controls in place to prevent vehicles coming into contact with overhead power lines. Hanly Waste Services Limited had received advice from UK Power Networks, the power network operator, about working near overhead power lines on a number of occasions both before and after the incident as the company had continually failed to implement controls and reduce the bund level to achieve minimum statutory clearances.

Donal Hanly pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,068.34. The judge also imposed a six month prison sentence suspended for 12 months and a Director Disqualification order for a period of seven years.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Gabriella Dimitrov said: “This was a very serious incident and it is fortunate nobody was injured.  The incident could easily have been avoided by introducing control measures and safe working practices.  Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It helps Great Britain work well by applying a broad range of regulatory interventions and scientific expertise, to prevent 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. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk
  4. Many farms have over-head power lines running across them. Any construction work must take into account the presence of over-head power lines and, as a minimum, HSE guidance GS6 (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/gs6.pdf) should be followed. Every year people at work are killed or seriously injured when they come into contact with live overhead electricity power lines.

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