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Fine for Pineview Interiors Ltd

22/09/11: The City of London Magistrates Court has heard that on 30 April last year a worker suffered serious burns following an electrical explosion at an Islington construction site caused by a North London company’s failure to carry out basic Health and Safety checks.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident, the 35 year old East Londoner was working as a sub-contractor for Pineview Interiors Ltd of Havering on a large construction project involving the refurbishment of three adjacent buildings at Leonard Street.

On the morning of the incident the worker approached his supervisor to inform him that the cable carrying a 415 volt 3 phase temporary electricity supply to the site would need to be removed to facilitate the installation of plaster board. Pineview Interiors Ltd made very limited enquiries to ascertain if the cable was live. Its workers then proceeded to attempt to remove it on the assumption that it was an old, redundant cable from the pre-existing installation.

The injured worker told the Court that he mounted a step ladder carrying a hammer and chisel to remove the cable and recalled that, after striking it, he woke up on the floor to find a colleague trying to extinguish flames covering the top half of his body. He was then taken to hospital. He suffered burns to 30 to 35 percent of his body and required skin to be grafted from his legs to his body and arms. It was expected that he would take two years to recover.

Pineview Interiors Limited of Rainham, Havering , London pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,183.

Following the prosecution, HSE Inspector Dominic Elliss said that refurbishment projects continued to be responsible for a high proportion of serious and fatal injuries in the construction industry. The defendant company in this case knew that an electrical head would need to be removed and was, or should have been, aware that it was still live when they instructed their employees to begin work.

Mr Elliss continued that the company also knew that it was intended that employees with no electrical training or relevant experience would undertake the removal. The employees were allowed to proceed following only a cursory attempt to ascertain that the system was in fact dead. This failure directly resulted in the explosion that led to the extensive burn injuries suffered by the worker.