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October 13, 2023

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Three companies fined total of £600k after engineer electrocuted

Three companies have been fined a total of £600,000 after an engineer was fatally electrocuted while repairing an appliance in a hospital kitchen.

Craig Stocker, working for Serviceline (part of AFE Group), died on 13 December 2017 while fixing a macerator (food waste disposal unit) at Bishops Wood Hospital, operated by BMI Healthcare (now known as Circle Health Group Limited) in Northwood, Middlesex.

The 36-year-old, who was originally from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, but lived in Letchworth, came into contact with a metal section of the macerator that had been electrified as water had entered the machine’s wiring.

Credit: Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

The macerator was not protected by an earth wire and there was no residual current device (RCD) to prevent fatal exposure to the electrical current.

Equipment ‘permanently live’

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Imperial Machine Company’s design of the macerator had serious flaws. The earthing wire could be connected in a way that meant it was ineffective, and the equipment was also permanently live.

When the macerator was installed by McFarlane Telfer in 2013, they had not acted on the manufacturer’s instructions, which required that a residual current device (RCD) was fitted.

BMI Healthcare did not identify that the RCD had not been fitted and the machine was operated for several years before the incident occurred.

Following a trial at Southwark Crown Court on 3 October 2023:

  • BMI Healthcare (now Circle Health Group Limited) was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act. 1974. The company was fined £450,000 and ordered to pay £106,895 in costs.
  • McFarlane Telfer Limited was also found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act. 1974. The company was fined £70,000 and ordered to pay £106,753 in costs.
  • On 2 March 2022, Imperial Machine Company Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 6(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £12,945 in costs at Southwark Crown Court.
  • AFE Group Limited (trading as Serviceline) were found not guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE Inspector Kevin Shorten said: “Our thoughts today are with the family of Mr Stocker. He should have returned home safely at the end of his working day but, because of the failings of these three companies, he did not.

“The fines imposed should underline to manufacturers, contractors and building owners that the courts, and HSE, take a failure to ensure electrical safety extremely seriously.

“We will not hesitate to take action against companies which do not do all that they should to keep people safe.

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john mackenzie
john mackenzie
9 months ago

A prime example of why a FULL PUWER assessment should be carried out on ALL work equipment coming into the workplace. Had this been followed this mans family would still have a son, husband, father etc.

PUWER first and foremost for any equipment installations and this could so easily have been avoided!