Electrician fined over ferry terminal incident

The owner of Hayes Electrical & Building Services has appeared in court after two of his employees suffered facial burns in a flash fire at Liverpool's Pier Head ferry terminal.

One of the workers, from New Ferry in Wirral, received severe burns to his face and hands, needed three months off work to recover, and required treatment to remove debris from his eyes.

Terence Hayes, the boss of the workers, was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive after an investigation found electrical work had been allowed to go ahead without the power being cut.

Liverpool Magistrates' Court was told his company had been replacing a temporary generator for the landing stage at the ferry terminal with a supply from the mains. Two of his employees visited the site on 16 April 2009 to install a new fuse into the switchboard at the ferry terminal.

The court heard that that the work had gone ahead while electricity was still running through the switchboard. When one of the workers tried to install the new fuse, there was a bright flash and an intense heat caused by a fire, lasting just a few seconds.

workers glasses at Pier Head incidentThe 50-year-old's glasses were badly charred in the flash fire and he needed four days in hospital after suffering severe burns. The other worker, 57, from Blundellsands near Crosby, also received burns to his face and required hospital treatment. Both workers have asked not to be named.

Terence Hayes admitted a breach of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 after he allowed his employees to carry out work while the electricity supply was still live.

Hayes, of Buttercup Close in Waterloo, Sefton, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £4,766 in prosecution costs on 1 September 2011.

Sarah Wadham, the investigating inspector at HSE, said: "One of the workers suffered severe burns in the flash fire but luckily his glasses prevented his eyes from being more badly damaged. He still needed three months off work to recover and gets flashbacks of the incident.

"Mr Hayes should simply never have allowed the work to go ahead without the power being cut. The installation and maintenance instructions for the switchboard clearly state work should not be carried out while the electricity supply is live.

"It would have been perfectly reasonable to carry out the work between ferry sailings when the electricity supply at the terminal could have been switched off. That way neither of Mr Hayes' employees would have been put at risk."

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