£3.6m penalty for mining firm after electrics contractor burned
This month we see another high profile HSE prosecution sending out a clear message that contracting out a job does not mean contracting out your health and safety responsibilities.
If an accident happens on your premises you have a basic duty to check that contractor is capable, well-informed. monitored and working in safe conditions.
The owners of Boulby Mine in Saltburn-by-the-Sea were fined £3.6 million and ordered to pay costs of £185,000 after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Cleveland Potash Limited (CPL) own the mine, which extracts organic fertiliser known as Polyhalite. Teesside Crown Court heard that on the 3 August 2016 a contract electrician received serious burns from an 11,000-volt electrical system. He unknowingly had placed a vacuum cleaner nozzle into a live electrical chamber. He had to be air lifted to Newcastle hospital specialist burns unit, where he was placed in an induced coma for 10 days.
On the 12 February 2019, another electrical contractor made contact with a live conductor on a 415-volt electrical system during electrical testing works, and received serious burns. He was hospitalised for six days.
The HSE found deficiencies from the owner of the mine in risk assessment, planning of works, and shortfalls in providing warnings about which parts of the electrical systems the two electricians were working on remained live.
HSE specialist regulatory principal inspector Paul Bradley said: “Employers should make sure they properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise risks when working on electrical systems. Both these incidents were preventable if long established electrical safety practices been applied.”
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Russell Barnard, SG World Product Manager said: “It’s a real concern for businesses that you could have the very best health and safety measures in place for their own workforce and be left completely vulnerable to the actions of a contractor. If an accident occurs it’s your reputation on the line and the HSE will investigate the way the contractor was being managed."