11,000 volt live cable explosion

A Redhill-based construction company has been ordered to pay £210,000 in fines and costs after an employee died following an explosion on a construction site in central London. The explosion occurred following damage to an 11,000 volt live cable within an excavation.


Ioan Boboc, 22, a construction operative from north-west London, suffered burns over 60% of his body whilst he and other workers were using breakers and a shovel within the excavation at the corner of Charing Cross Road and Tottenham Court Road on 2 December 2008.


Southwark Crown Court heard (20 Sept) that Birse Metro Ltd had not informed workers that there were live cables in the excavation and that the company had failed to put adequate measures in place prevent them from coming into contact with the cable. Mr Boboc died of his injuries on Christmas Day 2008.


Birse Metro Ltd of Station Road, Redhill, Surrey, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £167,000 and ordered to pay £43,000 in costs in the case brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

After the hearing, HSE inspector Lisa Chappell, said:


“The dangers associated with live underground cables are well-known to those carrying out groundworks in the construction industry. Clear guidance on avoiding contact with them is freely available to companies undertaking this work.


“This incident highlights the absolute necessity for such work to be properly planned and managed. Operatives should be briefed on the presence of cables and a safe system of working should be robustly enforced. Mr Boboc’s family continues to grieve the loss of a son and brother following an incident that could have easily been prevented.”

Source HSE


Lighthouse Comments: Working in excavations is high risk task just from the collapse of the trench, however the risk from underground cables (especially in London) is far greater. Underground cables are very difficult to locate as some of them are not live until they are in contact with a conductive material, some are not in the position that local drawings may suggest they are. However, there are many practical things that can be done to minimise the risk of contact with a HV cable, such as CAT Scanning prior to digging, hand digging, test holes, high intensity scanning and simply taking time to do the job correctly.


The four biggest killers in construction are Falls, Falling Objects, Crushing & finally Electrocution. If you work in an environment that harbours these risks GET THE RIGHT ADVICE!


September 26, 2012 | Categories: Lighthouse Blog |
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