The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been successful in prosecuting two construction firms after employees suffered electric shocks.
Exeter Crown Court heard that one employee, an agency worker, suffered life changing brain injuries including short term memory loss, mobility, speech and sensory issues.
Two other workers received electric shocks but were not seriously injured.
The HSE reported that in March 2013, the workers were laying cables in a trench at a farm in Great Torrington, Devon. An excavator used alongside the workers struck an overhead 33kV power line.
The court was told that both companies had failed to risk assess the work and provide a safe system of working underneath overhead power cables.
The court fined the first company £250,000 and was ordered to pay full costs of £72,466 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 34(2) of the CDM Regulations 2007. The second firm was fined £35,000 plus £25,000 contribution to costs after admitting a breach of Regulation 13(2) of the CDM 2007.
Inspector James Lucas, from the HSE, after the case said: “This incident was entirely preventable and arose from clear failures to plan, manage and monitor the work and to ensure that the construction site was set up with appropriate measures to control the risks of working under overhead power lines.”