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Company fined after death of worker

Date:
29 June 2017

Western Power Distribution (South West) PLC, a Bristol based company has been fined after the death of one of its employees at a remote site in Cornwall.

Truro Crown Court heard that on 16 January 2013 the Company arranged for a group of 15 employees to replace overhead electricity cables at the site in Cawsand, Cornwall. Ryan Thomas was working at the top of an electricity pole when a fellow overhead linesman cut the only remaining wire on one side of his pole, causing Ryan’s pole to fall to the ground while the 28-year-old was still attached to it.

The father of one suffered internal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the work, which was carried out on overtime in the evening, had not been properly planned. There was inadequate communication of work methods as well as inadequate on-site coordination. Furthermore the workers, who had not provided with a suitable detailed procedure for replacing the cables, were put at risk as the planning did not address the risks to which they were exposed that night.

Western Power Distribution (South West) Plc of Feeder Road, Bristol has pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The company has today been fined £800,000 and ordered to pay costs of £113,115.

Ryan’s wife Zara commented after the hearing: “From the moment the police arrived to tell me Ryan had died my life ended. Nothing will bring me comfort or accept what has happened. Ryan was such an amazing partner, kind, supportive, hands on, the very best husband and father.”

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Georgina Speake said: “This tragic case highlights the need for duty holders to properly plan, supervise and coordinate all work at height.

“Western Power failed in its duty to protect workers when conducting such a dangerous work activity, as a result Mr Thomas never returned home to his young family.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 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[1][1]
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/ link to external website[2][2]
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk

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