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BBES and Norland fined over worker's death

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has reported that both Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (BBES) and Norland Managed Services have received substantial fines after a worker was electrocuted.

Ipswich Crown Court was told that Martin Walton, 27, from Blackhall Colliery in Cleveland was killed on 16 October 2010 at Morgan Stanley’s Heathrow Data Centre.

BBES was contracted to carry out multi-million pound infrastructure upgrade works at the data centre in Hounslow, while Norland had been contracted to provide mechanical and electrical maintenance and had effective control of the site, according to HSE.

The court heard the function of some new power distribution units being installed was to provide two potential power supply sources to the centre’s data storage equipment.

One was an existing substation on the site and the other was a new substation installed as part of the works.

The existing power supply was under the control of Norland Managed Services, while the new supply was under the control of Balfour Beatty Engineering Services.

Connection of the first three of these units to the existing data centre infrastructure was scheduled to take place over the weekend of 16 to 18 October 2010.

Last-minute modifications to the units required them to be tested with two live supplies to ensure they functioned correctly before being connected to the existing infrastructure.

The first unit was successfully modified, tested and connected to the existing infrastructure, but Mr Walton, a cable jointer employed by subcontracted company Integrated Cable Services, was electrocuted when his forehead made contact with the 415V live terminals of the second unit.

HSE told the court the underlying cause of the incident was a succession of failures indicative a breakdown in health and safety by BBES, particularly a breakdown of communication.

While Norland had no role in the construction project, HSE said the relevant aspect of its undertaking was the management of the effect of the construction project on the existing operational infrastructure under its control.

Norland issued a permit-to-work to Mr Walton, allowing him to reroute the existing site power supply through the new distribution unit, in the knowledge that it had the potential to receive a supply from a source not under the company’s control and without confirming that the other supply was isolated.

BBES of Lumina Building, Ainslie Road, Hillington Park, Glasgow, admitted breaches of s.2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £280,000 in total – £140,000 for each breach – with £42,240 in costs.

Norland Managed Services, of City Bridge House, Southwark Street, London, was found guilty after an earlier trial of breaching s.3(1) of the Health and Safety Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £100,000, with £106,670 costs.