Cable firm fined after electric shock stops worker’s heart

A cable manufacturer has been fined after an employee suffered a severe electric shock at its factory when a lock was left off the door to a high-voltage area.

Medics had to resuscitate the worker on the way to hospital when his heart stopped beating as the result of a cardiac arrest. He also sustained serious burns to his arms and hands.

Tratos was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive after an investigation found the safety lock on the entrance to a high-voltage testing area at the factory had been removed.

Liverpool Magistrates' Court was told the 28-year-old, from Hindley near Wigan, who did not wish to be named, had been working in an area of the factory used to test cables at voltages of up to 2,000 volts.

However, workers at the factory had been struggling to shut the door leading to the testing pen after one of the hinges became damaged. They altered the locking mechanism for the door which tricked the safety system into believing it was locked shut. This meant power could be applied to the pen with the door still open.

The worker suffered a severe electric shock when he disturbed one of the cables in the testing pen while a current was being fed through it.

Tratos, of School Lane, Knowlsley, was fined £15,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of its employees. The company was also ordered to pay £4,206 in prosecution costs.

No one from Tratos was immediately available for comment on Friday morning.

HSE Inspector Bruce Jones said after the hearing: "Workers shouldn't have been able to gain access to the testing pen while electricity was being fed through the cables, but the safety system that prevents this from happening was overridden.

"Tratos's employees hadn't been given any information or training on what to do if the testing pen became damaged, and decided to remove the safety mechanism in the door so that they could continue to test cables.

"The company should have ensured that effective health and safety management was in place not only to provide adequate supervision but also safe working procedures for employees to follow. Had this happened, the life-threatening injuries suffered by an employee could have been avoided."

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