A Liverpool worker is ‘lucky to be alive’ after cutting through a live mains cable, having been told been told the electricity supply had been disconnected, Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard last week.

A clearly-defined lockout/tagout procedure needs to be followed

The 22-year-old from Prescott was thrown across a basement when his angle grinder made contact with the live cable, and construction firm Vermont Capitol was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident in August 2013.

The court was told the worker had been asked to remove old pipes and cables from the cellar but Vermont Capitol had failed to ensure the mains supply into the building had been disconnected, despite informing the site manager that it had.

There was a flash as the labourer cut into the cable and he suffered injuries to his elbow and shoulder after being thrown across the room. His protective clothing prevented him from suffering burns or being more badly injured.

The company was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £980 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 by failing to identify the live mains cable.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Chris Hatton said: “The team on the site had been told all of the utilities entering the site had been disconnected and so the worker had no way of knowing he was actually cutting into a live electricity cable.

Regulation 34(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 states: “Where necessary to prevent danger, energy distribution installations shall be suitably located, checked and clearly indicated.”

A clearly-defined lockout/tagout procedure needs to be followed to ensure the safety of workers carrying out repairs and servicing by the use of a lockout. Under the lockout/tagout (LOTO) regulations enforced by regulatory bodies, it is the responsibility of an employer to ensure that correct LOTO procedures are observed.

For further information please visit PASS Ltd’s specialist LOTO web page at lockout-lock.com.