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Prosecution for liquidated heating company

The Magna Heating Company Limited, which is no longer trading, has been convicted of failing to protect its workers from the risk of underground electricity cables after one of its employees suffered serious burns last year.

The worker, who asked not to be identified, was using a hand held mini breaker to dig through concrete in an alleyway at Smith Street, Warwick, when he struck an 11kv cable under the pavement on 29 April 2009.

He suffered second degree burns to his face and neck that subsequently kept him off work for five weeks.

The Magna Heating Company is now in liquidation and pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 at Leamington Spa Magistrates’ Court. It was fined £1.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the company had failed to take sufficient steps to protect its employees from the risk presented by underground cables.

HSE inspector Paul Cooper said: “This incident was entirely preventable had the company taken proper precautions. The company knew about HSE guidance on safe digging practice and failed to follow it.

“The Magna Heating Company should have given clear instructions to its workers, provided a method statement before undertaking the work and obtained plans of site services.

“It’s essential that employers have safe working procedures for any work involving underground services, electrical plant, cabling or equipment.”

Around 1,000 electrical accidents at work are reported each year, says the HSE, and about 25 people die of their injuries.