Housing Company Fined £500,000 After Worker Suffers Burns

May 13, 2024

Housing Company Fined £500,000 After Worker Suffers Burns

From our colleagues at Barbour EHS.

A housing company based in Kent has been fined £528,000 after an employee repairing a fence post inadvertently struck an underground cable, suffering burns to his face.

The MHS Homes employee and a colleague had been tasked by the company to repair three fence posts in a back garden of a tenant on 10 January 2023. They had already repaired two of the posts and started on a third, when one of the workers struck an underground electrical cable as he tried to break through some concrete using a breaker.

The company failed to provide the employees with information on the location of, or the tools to safely excavate around, an electrical cable and gas pipe.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), found that MHS Homes often excavated the ground. However, they never provided any information to employees on the location of underground services and did not provide suitable equipment to detect and safely excavate underground services. They had previously identified the risk of underground services in a risk assessment in 2017.

On this occasion, the two employees were digging not only by an electrical cable, but also a gas service. This heightened the risk of a fire or explosion, with the potential to kill not employees and members of the public nearby, as well the risk of destroying property.

MHS Homes of Broadside, Leviathan Way, Chatham, Kent pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 16(2), by virtue of non-compliance with Regulation 25(4), of The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The company was fined £528,000 and must pay £4,122 in costs following a sentencing hearing on 24 April 2024.

Our Comment

High voltage cables can cause electrocution leading to fatal consequences.  Even seemingly innocuous tasks like digging around buildings can turn deadly if proper precautions are not taken. To mitigate these risks, following safety guidelines such as the ‘Plan, Scan, Think Before You Dig’ approach is essential.

housing company burns

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This content has been produced in association with our sister company, Barbour.

For all enquiries, please contact us or call our team on 0203 819 8829.

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