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August 21, 2012

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Contractor’s breach created electrocution risk

A refrigeration and air-conditioning company left an electrical system in a dangerous condition, thereby exposing workers to the risk of an electric shock, or electrocution.

Coolcheck Refrigeration Ltd was contracted to disconnect a refrigerated counter unit during the refurbishment of an industrial premises in Bishop Auckland, Durham.

In July last year, an employee of Coolcheck Refrigeration disconnected the unit and placed electrical tape over the top of a miniature circuit breaker to indicate it should remain isolated. He also bound one end of the disconnected cable, which was still attached to a junction box on the floor. However after the worker had left the site, the copper conducting wires inside the unattached end of the cable became exposed.

On 3 August 2011, an electrician moved the cable to carry out some work. As he did so, the copper wires touched the wall where the circuit breaker was positioned, causing an electrical short circuit. The incident was reported to the HSE.

A subsequent investigation by the Executive found that the Coolcheck Refrigeration employee was not qualified to carry out electrical work of this nature. The work had not been properly planned, which meant neither the junction box nor the circuit breaker had been isolated.€

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11 years ago

Presumably the “M&E fitter” confimed or implicated his employers complicity in allowing him to undertake work for which he was not competent to undertake?

Yet he continued anyway, resulting in significant risk exposure to others by his undertaking?

Had there been a fatality, would his complicity in this incident be treated in the same way? Did they hold a gun to his head? Or was it common practice?

He should consider himself fortunate I think?

11 years ago

I can assure you that had a fatality occured the HSE would definately have considered individual neglegence has having been a serious corroborating factor.

I have been there and seen it applied.

The statement by the employer says they failed to realise the competence requirement of the task, yet the operative knew he was not competent yet continued regardless. Could he/should he have raised concern? Most definately. Was the risk unknown to him?
Therefore he may not be entirely blamless

11 years ago

Bob, I’m not sure it is fair to blame the operative, he may well have been a reluctant party to this incident. Some workers do not have the confidence to raise these issues with their superiors for obvious reasons. The fault lies with the planning and monitoring of the work, which is the responsibility of the employer.