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Electricity North West Ltd has been fined £900k after a worker died from falling six metres while carrying out routine maintenance of power lines.

On the 22 November 2013, the 63 year old employee, Mr John Flowers, who was an experienced linesman, climbed a ladder resting against a wood pole in order to trim ivy away from the power lines. It is believed that Mr Flowers somehow cut through his work positioning strap and fell to his death.

Preston Crown Court heard that the work of trimming the ivy off the pole was not identified as short duration work and was not suitable to be undertaken working from a ladder. The company failed to properly plan the work; no provision was made for the use of a mobile elevated work platform to undertake the task.

The HSE investigation found the work had not been properly planned. The ivy growing onto the electricity conductors was first identified some five years before the accident and then again in June 2013. A survey of the vegetation clearance work which was required was undertaken six weeks prior to the incident. However none of this information was given to any of the linesman, and they were not provided with information on how the work was to be carried out.

Electricity North West Limited of 304 Bridgewater Place, Birchwood Park, Warrington was found guilty of breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, was fined £900,000 with costs to be agreed at a later date.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Rose Leese-Weller said after the hearing: “Electricity North West failed to ensure that working at height was properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a manner that was safe. Had these steps been taken we may not have had this tragic outcome.”

Source – HSE

HSCS Scotland Promoting a Healthier Workplace Through Safety
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