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October 31, 2008

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Company fined GBP 300k after employee electrocuted

A Scottish engineering company has been fined a massive £300,000 after an employee was electrocuted while he was working on a cable that had not been isolated from its electricity supply.

Electrician Michael Adamson, 26, was installing cables at JJB Sports store under construction in Dundee, when the accident occurred in August 2005. Despite being labelled ‘not in use’, the cable he was working on was in fact live, and he was subsequently electrocuted. He had not been provided with test equipment to check if the cable was live, and nor did he have the means to isolate the circuit.

His employer, Mitie Engineering Services, was found guilty on 14 October of charges under section 2 of the HSWA 1974 at Dundee Sheriff Court. But two company directors and a project manager were acquitted of charges under section 37 of the same act.

In mitigation the company said that the accident was down to some of its employees failing to adhere to company procedure. The firm went on to say that it employed a range of competent electricians and foremen, but had been let down by a number of these employees.

HSE principal inspector, Jim Skilling, told SHP: “Mr Adamson’s death could have been avoided if his employer had ensured that safe working practices were being carried out in accordance to its own safety guidelines.

“The sheriff involved with this case was aghast that this company had decided to switch from dead testing of its lines, to live testing, without changing its controls, procedures, or risk assessments. It should have maintained much better control over such an important event.”

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