Firm Fined After Worker's Electric Shock

A Poole-based engineering company has been fined after a painter was thrown five metres to the ground after getting an electric shock from live power cables.

John Scrimshaw, 50, from Bournemouth, was decorating the dispatch bay at Hamworthy Combustion Engineering Ltd on 5 July 2010. As he was cleaning paint splashes from the cables he received an electric shock and fell to the floor from the platform he was working on.

Mr Scrimshaw suffered fractures to his collar bone and hand, and burns to his wrist and foot. He has not been able to return to work.

The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted Hamworthy Combustion Engineering on October 31st for safety failings after an investigation into the incident.

Poole Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Scrimshaw had been hired to redecorate the dispatch bay following a fire in November 2009.

HSE found the electricity cables, which powered an overhead crane used to move heavy industrial heating units, were bare and had not been isolated at the time of the incident.

HSE also found that, as part of the initial remedial works, scaffolding was erected to remove fire-damaged insulating boards in January 2010. As the work was underway, a scaffolder had received an electric shock when a steel scaffold tube he was handling made contact with the bare power cables.

Hamworthy Combustion Engineering, of Fleets Corner, Poole, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 4(3) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,372.50.

Speaking after the prosecution, HSE Inspector Frank Flannery said:

“This was a wholly preventable incident which could have resulted in a more serious outcome for Mr Scrimshaw.

“Whilst Hamworthy Combustion Engineering Ltd introduced control measures to prevent a recurrence of the first incident, they neglected to maintain these controls, which changed over time and allowed what was a known hazard to redevelop.

“Had the company adhered to the safe system of work and isolated the electricity supply, this clearly would not have happened.”