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Gloucester Crown Court issues £600,000 fine after employee was set on fire

employee set on fire

The Health and Safety Executive have concluded their investigations into a horrific incident that saw a 61 year-old man set on fire whilst working on site.

Mr Steven Brown was working on installing a new set of traffic lights in Chester city centre by first moving a traffic light pole. He was using a pneumatic drill to break up the concrete when he hit an 11,000 volt cable. This gave him a huge electric shock and sparked a serious fire that engulfed the man in flames. Mr Brown suffered severe burns all over his hands, arms, legs, abdomen and face.

His injuries were so severe that he had to put in an induced coma for two weeks.

During the HSE’s investigations, it was revealed that a risk assessment was carried out but not all sub-contractors who work on site were told about it. The HSE were also not impressed with the lack of supervision on the work site.

Amey LG Ltd – a design, building and infrastructure company based in Oxford – faced the Gloucester Crown Court for failing in their Health and Safety legal obligations. They had subcontracted another company, who employed Mr Brown to work on their site but had not told them enough information about what was underground. The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 25 of the construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

Fines and costs paid

Gloucester Crown Court therefore fined Amey LG Ltd £600,000 and costs of £15,498. Ms Helena Tinton, who works for the HSE as the Principal Inspector, justified the hefty amount explaining that Mr Brown:

“…suffered life changing injuries as a result of this incident. He has not been able to return to work, he still can’t use his hands properly and has been left both physically and mentally scarred by what happened.”

“Had Amey given adequate information to the team working on site, and had Amey ensured the work was properly planned and supervised, this incident could have been avoided.”

No leniency

The Health and Safety Executive take their jobs extremely seriously. Having investigated thousands upon thousands of cases, they are not prepared to be lenient towards companies who neglect health and safety. Health and Safety regulations must always be taken seriously and must be properly implemented. For injuries that were entirely preventable, the HSE can enforce the strictest of sanctions.

Ms Tinton also warned other companies and authorities to use this as an example of failing to comply with health and safely obligations:

“…this case should act as a reminder to local authorities and their contractors of the risks of working underground and the danger of severe electric shocks.”

While the responsible company is out of pocket by over £600,000, it is not known whether Mr Brown made his own claim for financial compensation. In this case, Amey LG Ltd had a responsibility to ensure that Mr Brown was in a safe environment, and that he was at least fully warned of the specific risks. For their negligence, Mr Brown is most likely to be eligible to claim for financial compensation from Amey LG ltd. Although the money can’t reverse what had happened, it can help towards Mr Brown’s loss of earnings and time spent recovering at home.

If you have been injured at work through someone else’s negligence, talk to our team of expert specialists to see how we can help you recover financial compensation.

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