A contractor has been fined £600,000 after a worker struck a live cable during drilling operations. The contractor was instructed by Gloucestershire County Council to oversee the installation of a new set of traffic lights in the city centre. The worker, who was employed by a subcontractor, had been using a pneumatic drill to break through concrete pavement when the tool came into contact with an 11,000 volt underground cable. The worker received an electric shock and was set on fire, sustaining serious burns to most of his body.

An investigation by the HSE found that, despite a risk assessment having taken place, this was not communicated to the subcontractor’s employees. Although the contractor had employed a cable avoidance specialist, his notes had not been passed to the supply chain workers. Gloucester Crown Court found that the contractor had successfully identified the location of the cable, but had failed to act on these findings. The highways contractor pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 25(4) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

The Court found that the firm’s supervision of the work was inadequate and reasserted the need for companies to ensure that risks are not only properly considered and assessed, but that any findings are communicated to all parties on site.