Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
September 25, 2013

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

Explosion in Leicester Square leads to £20,000 fine


A company that was redeveloping Leicester Square as part of a major project has been fined after a worker was caught in an explosion.
On 24 April 2012, 32-year-old Trevor Maloney from Tottenham, struck a concealed live electricity cable and suffered burns to his hands and face. 
Mr Maloney was working for Dublin-based SIAC Construction Ltd, who had been contracted by Westminster City Council to redevelop Leicester Square, a major project, which included substantial excavation and ground work to resurface the main terraces and side roads.
Following an HSE investigation into the incident, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that due to a large number of underground services in the vicinity, the local authority gave clear instructions that any shallow cables or pipework in areas to be concreted were to be protected by sand and steel plating.
There was also a further requirement to put marker tape on plating covering electricity services so they could be easily identified in the event of future work.
However, during the excavation of old paving outside the Hippodrome casino in Cranbourn Street, an electricity cable was discovered that was so shallow the preferred method of protecting it could not be used.
SIAC and the council agreed a work-around, but when the new paving was completed in January 2012 it was unclear whether it had been done.
In March 2012, part of the new paving had to be dug up for underground repair work, which was unconnected to the renovation project. 
SIAC was not involved in this work, but was later asked to reinstate the paving. Mr Maloney was one of two workers tasked with removing old mortar so that the slabs could be re-laid. 
He was unaware of the presence of the cable, and as he used an electric breaker to remove the paving stone mortar he struck a shallow cable, which short-circuited and created an explosion and flames. 
The HSE investigation found that the cable was partially above the concrete foundation and concealed within the mortar, unprotected by any steel plating. Magistrates were told that it had been adequately protected, or its location properly identified to the ground workers as an area in which to take extreme care, then the incident could have been avoided.
On 23 September, SIAC Construction Ltd, of Monastery Road, Clondalkin, Dublin, was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £5,002 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of regulation 34(3) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
Following the sentence, HSE inspector Loraine Charles, said: “This was a serious incident that could have ended in tragedy, and Mr Maloney is very fortunate not to have been more seriously injured.
“It is essential that when any work that might disturb live underground services is being carried out, all practicable steps are taken to determine the location of those services, and to arrange the work so that the risk of damaging any service is minimised.”
SIAC Construction Ltd have reviewed their systems of work and put procedures in place to avoid this type of incident again. They cooperated with the investigation and entered an early guilty plea.  

Fire Safety in 2023 eBook

SHP's sister site, IFSEC Insider has released its annual Fire Safety Report for 2023, keeping you up to date with the biggest news and prosecution stories from around the industry.

Chapters include important updates such as the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 and an overview of the new British Standard for the digital management of fire safety information.

Plus, explore the growing risks of lithium-ion battery fires and hear from experts in disability evacuation and social housing.

Related Topics

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments