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A Scottish company has been fined after a worker suffered burns to his face, hands and arms while carrying out regular electrical tests.
Gordon Roberts, aged 38 at the time of the accident on December 2nd 2010, had to spend more than a week in hospital because of his burn injuries, but he was lucky to survive and returned to work two months later after making a full recovery.
Dundee Sheriff Court was told that Mr Roberts, an employee of McGill Electrical, was testing an electricity substation on the premises of a manufacturing company in Dundee when he climbed a stepladder to take off bolted covers, which guarded access against live conductors he was due to test.
But as he did this, a corner of the cover appeared to come into contact with electrical currents and this caused an arc flashover, which struck Mr Roberts.
While a colleague was in the vicinity, he did not see the incident, but reported that all the lights went out and the room filled with smoke.
Luckily, Mr Roberts was able to walk out of the substation unaided and his co-worker used snow surrounding the area to cool down burns before the ambulance arrived, something that aided his long-term recovery chances.
When the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was made aware of the incident, it launched an investigation that found a suitable risk assessment had not taken place and McGill Electrical failed to ensure that distribution boards were de-energised during the removal of covers.
For its part in the accident, McGill Electrical was fined £2,000 after it pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
After the case finished, HSE inspector Mac Young said, "This incident was wholly preventable. It was foreseeable that a metal plate being manipulated in close proximity to live conductors could inadvertently touch live parts and cause a flashover.
"The system of work, which involved removal and replacement of bolted covers while the system was live, and without knowing what was behind the covers, exposed Mr Roberts to unnecessary risk."
By Francesca Witney
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