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March 26, 2009

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Shock fine for council

Camden Council has been fined £40,000 following the death of a scaffolder who was electrocuted by an exterior security light.

The victim, Ralf Kennedy, was removing scaffolding adjacent to a block of flats on AN estate in Camden when the accident took place on 15 September 2006. The council had sub-contracted Mr Kennedy’s employer, Beacon Scaffolding, to carry out the work.

Mr Kennedy was working with a colleague on the first lift of the scaffolding when he came into contact with an exterior security light, which was mounted to the side of the building. The metal casing of the light was conducting an electrical current of 240V and the shock killed Mr Kennedy instantly.

A police community support officer, who arrived at the scene and climbed up to attend Mr Kennedy, he also received an electric shock, after he brushed against the light. He did not receive any serious injuries but was absent from work with stress for six weeks.

HSE investigators found that the earth wire inside the connection box leading to the light had been cut. But they were unable to ascertain who had cut the wire, or why this had been done. The council was also unable to provide maintenance records detailing who had installed the lamp or if any repairs had been made to the light.

Camden Council pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974 at Southwark Crown Court, on 23 March. It was ordered to pay £40,000 fine and costs of £16,445.

In mitigation, the council said it had a ‘reasonable’ safety record and has subsequently removed the lamp and any similar lights from the building. It also claims to have spent around £2.5m to carry out safety checks on a number of its other residential properties.

HSE inspector, Kerry Williams, said: “Routine inspection and testing of fixed electrical installations is necessary because all systems deteriorates due to a number of factors, such as damage, wear, tear, corrosion, excessive electrical loading, ageing and environmental influences.

“The purpose of this testing is to ensure the safety of persons and prevent fire thereby stopping unnecessary accidents such as the one that tragically killed Mr Kennedy.”


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15 years ago

How should any organisation check such equipment. Scafolder killed so scaffold not suitable. The only sensible solution would be with the use of glass fibre ladders. Using such means, the light could have been checked and repaired before the errection of the scaffold.

15 years ago

Add to my last comment. the light should have been tested whilst the scaffold was errected before its removal.