HSE issues advice on underground services after worker suffered burns to hand and face

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is advising construction firms of the need to plan carefully work situated near underground services, after a worker received a serious electric shock when he came in contact with live cabling.

Hogarth (Construction) Ltd was fined a total of £4,000 as well as £1,616 for failing to secure the safety of one of its employees.

Mark Dougherty suffered burns to his hand and face after accidently touching a live underground cable while working on a construction site at North Ferriby, East Yorkshire.

Although the company was aware that live underground cables were present on site, none of the workforce had been informed.

On 7 September 2006, while clearing an area, Dougherty picked up what he thought was a piece of rubbish. This was actually a termination box on a live three-phase 400-volt cable which had been uncovered during work on the site.

As he touched the box he received an electrical shock that burned his hand and face.

HSE inspector David Stewart commented that the worker was extremely fortunate to only receive superficial burns as this type of incident often has fatal consequences.

He said: "Nationally, there were 18 worker fatalities due to contact with electricity in 2006/7, nine of these involving workers in the construction industry.

"The dangers associated with live underground cables are well known and HSE guidance on how to control these risks is readily available."