Exposed copper cable put workers at risk…
A company in Tyneside has been fined after a HSE investigation revealed that their electrical system was left in an unsafe condition increasing the risk of electrical injury among their employees.
Darlington Magistrates’ Court heard that the refrigeration company had neglected to maintain the electrical system after a recent job that disconnected a refrigerated counter unit at the premises in Bishop Auckland.
The HSE discovered that an employee had used electrical tape to cover the switch of the circuit breaker after disconnecting the refrigerated unit. This was intended to indicate that the circuit should remain isolated yet the copper conducting wires belonging to the disconnected cable were exposed elevating the risk of electric shock to those workers in the environment.
Indeed, as the court heard, just two weeks after the disconnection, another worker had to move the exposed cable to do some maintenance work. In the process the copper conducting wires came into contact with the wall of the building and a dangerous short circuit occurred.
The company was fined a total of £7,000 in addition to incurring costs of £2,500 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4(3) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. They were also asked to take all necessary measures to ensure electrical safety was up to recommended standards at their plant.
HSE Inspector Keith Partington spoke after the hearing:
“This incident could have easily been prevented. The company employed a number of competent electricians and should have planned the works so that the electrical supply to the equipment was properly isolated by disconnection of wiring at the relevant circuit breaker.
“The electrical supply to the cable was 240 volts and was capable of causing electric shock or electrocution. After any work on an electrical system it should be left in a condition which prevents danger.
“The use of electrical tape to effect isolation of the switches on miniature circuit breaker electrical systems is regarded as unsafe practice by the Electrical Safety Council, which warns against it in their guidance to the industry.”
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