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January 31, 2013

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Live electrical cable left unprotected in restaurant’s kitchen

An agency worker suffered an electric shock while working in the kitchen of a restaurant in Warwickshire.

Nuneaton Magistrates’ Court heard the incident took place on 14 June last year at the Almanack restaurant in Kenilworth. Polish agency worker Agnes Sieczkowska suffered a severe electric shock when she removed a metal-rimmed bucket from below a waste-disposal unit.

The unit had been taken out of use as it continually suffered blockages, but it was not safely isolated. A live electrical cable was protruding from the control box, and either Agnes’ hand or the bucket came into contact with the wire. She fell to the floor and lost consciousness for a short time. She was found by a colleague who called an ambulance. Agnes has been unable to return to work owing to her injuries.

One month earlier, Agnes suffered a less severe shock from the unit when she tried to move the bucket. She reported the incident to the restaurant’s management but no remedial action was taken.

Warwick District Council investigated the later incident and issued an Improvement Notice, which required the restaurant to carry out a proper inspection of the electrical equipment in the kitchen.

Peach Pub Company Ltd appeared in court on 24 January and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974 and reg.4(2) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. It was fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £6675.

In mitigation, the firm said it had no previous convictions and cooperated with the investigation. It subsequently enlisted a competent electrician to make the control box safe.

After the hearing, Warwick District Council portfolio holder for the environment councillor Michael Coker said: “There was a clear potential in this case for serious injury and it was a matter of sheer luck that the employee did not receive a fatal electric shock.

“It’s important that employers do not become complacent about the use and maintenance of electrical systems, and it is essential that businesses engage competent contractors to undertake planned maintenance.”

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