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Electrical flash over causes severe burns and serious fine

Written by Phoenix Health & Safety
23rd April 2018
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Two workers at a Nottinghamshire foundry suffered serious skin burns following a ‘preventable’ electrical flashover in September 2016. This occurred while they were working on restoring the power supply to a furnace.

The company, BAS Castings Ltd, was prosecuted by the HSE and the case was heard at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court. The court was told that, after repairs to the furnace had been completed by a contractor, the victims replaced the fuses, but then found that a built-in safety mechanism stopped them using the main switch. The two workers tried to bypass this using a screwdriver, causing the flashover. The resulting burns required surgery and kept them in hospital for two weeks.

The HSE investigation found that the foundry company had no electrical safety rules, and neither safe systems of work or a permit system were in place. Furthermore, there were no recorded systems or rules for working with electricity, and the employees had not been given any specific instructions for completing the task safely before starting work. Finally, the company “had allowed employees to work on live conductors without consideration of the conditions which are stipulated in law”.

BAS Castings Limited of Wharf Road Industrial Estate, Pinxton, Nottinghamshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 (3) and Regulation 14 of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. The fine was £60,000 plus costs of £1353.90. 

Commenting after the verdict, HSE inspector Leigh Stanley said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training... If a suitable safe system of work had been in place, the injuries sustained by the employees could have been prevented.” 

As with most cases of this kind, the moral of the story is that failure to have the right precautions, procedures and training in place can endanger lives and wellbeing, as well causing companies financial and reputational damage. 

All the more reason to keep your workforce and managers up to health and safety speed. Talk to the Phoenix team at any time for authoritative advice on the most suitable courses for every individual and business.