The driver was employed by Mick George, a company that supplies earth moving, demolition, skip hire and waste management services to the construction industry. On 9 March 2016 he was emptying a load of soil from the tipper at a construction site in Northampton. He drove forward with the dump bed still raised and touched – or almost touched – the 33kV overhead power lines.
Northampton Crown Court was told Mick George had identified the need for overhead cable goalposts that provide a visible proximity warning of nearby overhead cables on construction sites. However, a delay in the work starting meant it had only installed one.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said Mick George should have carried out a “more rigorous” risk assessment. Its system of work was inadequate to reduce the risk of tipper trucks striking overhead power lines, it found.
Mick George pleaded guilty to breaching reg 25(3) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, which cover the provision of suitable warning notices where there is a risk to construction work from overhead electric power cables.
The company was fined and ordered to pay costs of £9,000.
After the hearing HSE inspector said: “Every year in the UK, two people are killed and many more are injured when mechanical plant and machinery comes into contact or close proximity to overhead power lines. This was a very serious incident and it is fortunate nobody was injured as a result.
“A suitable and sufficient assessment would have identified the need to contact the distribution network operator, Western Power, to request the overhead power lines were diverted underground prior to the commencement of construction. If this was not reasonably practicable, Mick George should have erected goalposts either side of the overhead power lines to warn drivers.”