HSE slams council and lighting contractor for ‘dreadful’ safety practice on lamppost installation

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets has been fined after a worker received severe burns when he hit an electrical cable.

The council was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £39,089 after being found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

In a separate prosecution relating to the incident, Essex-based lighting specialist T Cartledge Ltd was also fined £18,000 with costs of £14,555 after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act. The firm was working as a contractor for Tower Hamlets council.

The incident occurred in October 2005, when Martin Rose, an employee of T Cartledge, was operating a mechanical breaker (which breaks up concrete) in Tower Hamlets. He had been attempting to install a lamppost on the footpath and struck a live 132kV electrical cable. Rose suffered severe burns as a result of the accident.

Janet Seggery, investigating inspector with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said: “This is a dreadful case where the employer had failed to provide plans of underground electrical cables. If the company had simply provided the plans and had supervised the work, then this incident would never have occurred.”

The HSE investigation showed that Tower Hamlets council and T Cartledge had both failed to provide Rose with a copy of service plans, which would have identified underground electrical cables, and they did not supervise the work that was being undertaken.