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January 8, 2013

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HSE uncovered dangerous electrical fittings during site visit

A plastics manufacturer has appeared in court after the HSE found electrical fittings at its production site in Suffolk were in an unsafe condition.

Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court heard the HSE uncovered serious issues with the construction and maintenance of the electrical systems at Techplas Ltd’s site in Sudbury on 9 and 10 October 2011. The Executive was visiting the site to investigate a separate unrelated issue.

HSE inspector Saffron Turnell discovered a number of safety failings, which included live 400-volt cabling hanging off the wall; a broken socket with live 400-volt cabling coiled on the floor; fused spurs and electric switches hanging off single-core cabling, leaving the live 230-volt wiring inside exposed; and guards missing from a plastic forming machine, exposing heating elements that could have created a dangerous hazard when the machine was switched on.

The company was issued with three Prohibition Notices, which required work to halt in the affected area, workers to stop using electrical appliances until repairs had been made, and the forming machine to be taken out of service.

Inspector Turnell explained that electrical systems posed an immediate risk to employees. She said: “The state of the electrical systems at Techplas was simply appalling and it is only a matter of luck that nobody had been injured, or electrocuted.

“Employers have a duty to ensure the workplace is a safe environment and this must include electrical installations, whether or not the work carried out at their premises directly involves electricity.”

Techplas Ltd appeared in court on 3 January and pleaded guilty to breaching reg.4 of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. It was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £5930 in costs.

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