UK - One of world's largest temporary power generation companies was recently (25 January 2016) fined a total of £36,000 for failing to ensure that workers were not exposed to risk. The company, Aggreko PLC, appeared before Westminster Magistrates' Court to plead guilty to two charges, one under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the other under the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. They also agreed to pay the Royal Borough's costs of £90,000.

The charges followed an electrical incident where a man suffered electrical burns during the fitting out of the Earl's Court Exhibition Centre in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games. Aggreko PLC had been appointed as the main contractor to provide a temporary electricity supply to the Exhibition Centre which was to host the Olympic volleyball tournament.

In order to carry out this work the company engaged a number of contractors, including self-employed electricians which were under their control. Part of the work involved routing electrical cables throughout the venue. At times cable heads had to be removed to allow the cables to be routed through small gaps. This was the case when a series of cables were routed into the Thames Room, a conference space on the first floor of the centre. Unfortunately, the cable heads were not then reinstated which meant that when the power supply was turned on the wiring would be live and exposed.

The Court heard how on 3 July 2012 Ben Brown, an employee of Custom Rigging Services Ltd, a company with no connection with Aggreko, "was working in the Thames Room on the installation of a temporary control centre for communications at the venue. While working with a colleague they heard a loud bang close to a window. When Brown checked the area a second bang was heard and there was also a bright flash. Brown staggered back and collapsed. His colleague then spotted the exposed copper ends of an electrical cable under the hem of a curtain. Brown had suffered burns to his left arm and was kept in hospital overnight. Since the accident the grip in his left hand has been restricted."

Aggreko accepted there were some deficiencies in their procedures and some failures of communication and supervision on site which, amongst other things, were causative of the injury. However, the Court also heard that Aggreko had a previously unblemished health and safety record, had cooperated fully with the Council's investigators and had already taken steps to prevent a similar occurrence. Cllr Tim Ahern, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea's Cabinet Member for Environmental Health, said: "This was a very troubling case which resulted in serious injuries to a man working at Earl's Court in the run-up to the London Olympics. Clearly it should never have happened and the company has pleaded guilty and been fined by the courts. "We will always investigate such cases and prosecute when required."

(LSi Online)

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