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Power distribution consultancy fined after employee fall

A West Yorkshire power distribution services provider has been fined for safety failings after a worker suffered multiple fractures in a cherry picker fall in Hertfordshire.

Nicholas Chenery, 33, of Stowmarket, suffered a compound fracture to the left leg and three fractured vertebrae to his lower spine in the incident in the Buntingford area on 9 August 2012.

The Freedom Group of Companies (FGCL), of Bradford Road, Tingley, West Yorks, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found that more could and should have been done to prevent his fall.

Watford Magistrates’ Court heard that the company had been commissioned by a major energy network operator to replace overhead power lines and distribution poles between Cherry Green and Reed in Hertfordshire. The project started on 2 April 2012 and lasted 44 weeks.

During their investigation, HSE inspectors found that FGCL had fallen well below their own in-house standards regarding the planning, managing and monitoring of such a routine operation within their field of expertise.

In particular, the company had failed to plan and implement a clear and unambiguous communication system, which was clearly an important element to the task as the two teams working on the project were separated by great distances.

FGCL also failed to ensure the operation was supervised effectively.

Freedom Group of Companies was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay £11,272 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

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