A solar power company has been fined after a worker suffered life-changing injuries when he was electrocuted at one of the firm’s solar farm sites.
On the day of the incident in March 2013, the agency employee was helping to control a cable drum suspended from the arm of a digger. He was part of a team of workers laying cables in a trench at Knockworthy Farm in Huntshaw.
But while reversing, the vehicle struck a 33,000 volt overhead cable which electrocuted the worker and caused him to suffer a serious brain injury. Two other men also received shocks but escaped with less severe injuries.
Exeter Crown Court heard how British Solar Renewables (BSR) failed to install signage at the site warning of the presence of overhead power lines, and how the electrical firm that had sub-contracted the worker failed to adequately plan, manage or monitor the job for it to be carried out safely.
BSR, of Butleigh, Somerset, was fined £250,000 with £72,000 costs after they admitted breaching the construction, design and management regulations by failing to ensure the safety of power cables. Sub-contractor Pascon was fined £35,000 with £25,000 costs for failing to manage the work safely.
This incredibly dangerous incident should never have been allowed to happen. The high-power cables should have been protected with goal posts and bunting to prevent vehicles from operating beneath them. Furthermore, there should have been a banksman on site to ensure the safe movement of plant.
This is yet another example of a wholly preventable work accident that could so easily have ended with an employee losing his life. This incident would never have happened had the construction companies involved simply followed procedure and carried out the necessary risk-assessments before such a high-risk job was allowed to go ahead.
As a result of these site safety failings, a worker has tragically been left with mobility and speech problems which mean he is unlikely to ever work again.
Speaking about the incident, a spokesperson from BSR said: “The vehicle passed beneath overhead cables at a point which was not the designated crossing point on the site. Fencing had been put in place by BSR to prevent vehicles crossing in areas other than the designated crossing point. Unfortunately the fencing was moved by those on the site and the vehicle entered into the exclusion zone and underneath the overhead cables.”
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