The prosecution followed an incident on 1 October 2008 when Paul Ridings, a self-employed contractor, was working at a site owned by Lafarge. Mr Ridings was checking energy meters to review energy usage for various pieces of equipment when he noticed one reading appeared to be stuck at zero. On checking the panel, he noticed a fuse had blown and then went to change it. However, when doing so, a loose live wire fell and hit the meter panel and shorted, causing an explosion. Whilst his eyes had been protected, the flash fire caused extensive burns to his face, hands and upper body. He spent 19 days in hospital and had to undergo multiple skin grafts.
Having bought the site a few years previously, Lafarge had made a number of modifications but had failed to adequately check the existing equipment. The investigation also established that Lafarge had arranged for the panels to be wired into the primary rather than secondary side, which had the effect of causing the meter to remain live when the panel was opened.
Lafarge admitted breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the HSWA 1974 and, in addition to the fine, were ordered to pay costs of £29,742. Just one month previously, the company had won a trophy for “leadership, training and management systems” at the Mineral Products Association Health and Safety Best Practice Awards.