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£300,000 fine for UK Power Networks Ltd

01/09/11: An energy firm, which supplies most of England, has had to pay out £300,000, due to the death of an employee, while he was at work at a Norfolk site.

The 45 year old Jonathon Crosby was killed on the 9th of November 2007, who lived in Dickleburgh in Norfolk, worked as an overhead power cable linesman. He worked for the firm previously known as EDF Energy Networks Ltd, now currently called UK Power Networks Ltd at Sawmills Road, Diss.

The incident occurred when Mr Crosby received a fatal electric shock. He was onboard a cherry-picker, 5m in the air, working to remove a transformer from a pole-top, which was connected to power lines. As the removal of the electrical transformer occurred, it contacted with live power, resulting in the electrical shock that killed Mr Crosby.

An enquiry held by a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the incident, revealed that an essential procedure require by law was not in place – namely the removal of fuses that supply the transformer with current, had failed to have been removed for lifting by crane, and hence subjected Mr Crosby to electricity while in contact with the transformer.

It was revealed to Norwich Crown Court that the national company had failed utterly to ensure the safety of employee’s undertaking high risk work – much of which is carried out at height – for its large distribution network of electricity.
The court heard further that UK Power Networks had fell far short with keeping safety practise and procedures up to date, and thorough. This was alongside inadequate employee training, and supervision to ensure that any safety measures in place were followed.

After the hearing, Toni Drury, the leading HSE inspector on the case, said that a man with a wife and children has had his life taken away prematurely and tragically, in circumstances that would have not occurred had the company ensured the essential safety measures. The high risk nature of working with electricity, especially with over-head power cables, is demonstrated in cases such as this, and it shows how important it is for other companies to make the same assurances, and that safety procedures are thoroughly implemented.

He added that there can be no room for error when working in situations like this, with the horrific incident leaving a devastated number of family and friends.

Judge Peter Jacobs stated that the company fell well short of the responsibilities and standards required, which led to the operational and organisational failures, allowing the incident to happen. The smallest of contacts pose mortal dangers, and makes these safety practises the most important priority.

The company, UK Power Networks, of Newington House, 237 Southwark Bridge Road, London was found guilty of the violation of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Apart from the large fine, the company also had to pay legal fees of £219,352.09.