On 25 July 2018, a lorry delivering materials to the Fairhurst Stone Merchants' site in Settle, North Yorkshire, and was directed to tip its load close to overhead power lines. During the tipping procedure the vehicle moved forward and made contact with the 11,000-Volt power lines. Nobody was injured.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigators found that this was not the first time this had happened. Two years previously a lorry had made contact with the same power lines. Nobody was injured but the electricity supplier gave Fairhurst advice regarding avoiding a repeat incident.
However, the only action taken by the company was to put up two small warning notices that the driver said he failed to notice. In addition, the first incident had not been reported to HSE, which added a breach of reg 7 of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) to its charge sheet.
At Leeds Magistrates’ Court, Fairhurst Stone Merchants pleaded guilty to breaching reg 3 of the Electricity at Work Regulations and o the RIDDOR charge. The company was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £621.42 in prosecution costs.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Julian Franklin commented: “Had the company reported the first incident to HSE and acted on the guidance from the electricity supplier, effective precautions could have been taken to avoid a repeat incident.
“This incident could have led to the death of the wagon driver. Standard industry-wide precautions should be followed to avoid the risk of making contact with high-voltage overhead lines.”