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An inquest has heard how an apprentice electrician died after he was electrocuted and fell more than 10 feet from a ladder.
The 19 year-old Rochdale man was testing lights alongside his father – an experienced electrician of more than 30 years – when he accidentally touched an exposed power supply.
The shock caused the man to plummet 12 feet head first onto the roof of a toilet block. He was airlifted unconscious to the hospital, but subsequently died of his injuries.
The fatal work accident occurred while the father and son were conducting an electrical inspection at a sheet metal manufacturer in Greater Manchester in September 2013.
One of their jobs was to inspect the lights on a section of a roof but in order to access the lights they had to climb on top of a toilet block to position their ladder against an electrical crane.
It was while climbing the ladder up to the crane’s walkway that the apprentice accidentally touched a live 400-volt busbar - a metallic strip or bar typically made of copper, brass or aluminium - that conducts electricity within a switchboard.
The inquest in Oldham revealed that burn marks consistent with electrocution were found on the young man's arm. A forensic pathologist added that he had probably suffered a heart attack before falling to the ground.
In a statement, the man’s father said his son had joined him as an apprentice in September 2012 after embarking on a three-year training course. He had completed his health and safety training just one month before the fatal accident.
The father added that his son had been learning on the job and was only ever allowed to perform basic tasks involving switches, sockets and lights and only when it was safe for him to do so.
Neither he nor his son had seen the busbar and the father emphasised that the power source should have been encased in a protective sleeve and labelled “danger high voltage”. He said that in all his 32 years’ experience he had never come across an exposed busbar that wasn’t correctly sleeved and labelled.
Sadly, this tragic accident could have been prevented had essential safety measures been implemented. There is never any room for error when working around high voltages and there are simple precautions workers can take that can significantly reduce the risk of death or electrical injury.
In this case, it is obvious that the power source should never have been exposed in the way it was and instead should have been clearly marked as dangerous. This tragedy illustrates just how dangerous working with electricity can be and it is imperative that employers, however, large or small ensure there are safe working procedures in place and that contractors are properly trained. This is particularly important for electrical work.
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