Waste Management Company Fined After Worker Suffers Severe Burns

A worker sustained burns to his face and body after the crowbar he was using made contact with a live electrical conductor.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted a waste management company following this incident, which occurred on July 14, 2021.

The incident took place while the worker was using a metal crowbar to move heavy-duty electrical cables on a mobile elevating work platform. The crowbar contacted a live conductor, triggering an electrical explosion at Copper Hill industrial estate, Ermine Street, Barkston Heath, Lincolnshire.

In addition to severe burns, the explosion caused the worker to fall from the platform, resulting in a broken left arm, fractured ribs, and a dislocated kneecap.

The worker was contracted by New Earth Solutions (West) Limited, trading as Mid UK Recycling, to work at the company’s recycling plant at Copper Hill industrial estate.

An HSE investigation revealed that this task was not part of the worker’s normal duties, and he had not received any training related to electrical work. The task had neither been properly planned nor risk assessed, and the electrical cables were not isolated before work commenced. Additionally, the level of supervision was insufficient, and the safety devices on the electrical supply were improperly set, favoring the continuity of supply over the safety of the electrical circuit.

HSE guidelines on electrical safety can be found at: Electrical safety – HSE.

New Earth Solutions (West) Limited, located at Station Road, Caythorpe, Grantham, Lincolnshire, admitted to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £12,466.60 in costs at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on May 10, 2024.

HSE inspector Tim Nicholson commented, “This incident could have been easily prevented through proper task planning, ensuring that all involved workers were suitably competent, and making sure that electrical conductors were isolated before the work began.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fail to meet the required standards.”

This prosecution was brought by HSE enforcement lawyer Jayne Wilson and supported by HSE paralegal officer Ellen Garbutt.