Worker “lucky to be alive” after cutting through power cable

A Liverpool labourer could have easily been killed when he cut through a mains electricity cable, a court has heard.

The 22-year-old, who has not been named, had been told the power supply had been disconnected but was thrown across a basement when his angle grinder made contact with the live wires.

Construction firm Vermont Capitol Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at a city building site in August last year.

Liverpool Magistrates Court heard last week that the company was clearing the site before building a block of around 60 student flats at the end of a row of 19th century terrace houses

The end terrace had been partially demolished after becoming structurally unsound, leaving just the facade and basement on the building site.

The court was told the worker had been asked to remove old pipes and cables from the cellar but Vermont Capitol had failed to ensure the mains supply into the building had been disconnected, despite informing the site manager that it had.

There was a flash as the young man cut into the cable and he suffered injuries to his elbow and shoulder after being thrown across the room. His protective clothing prevented him from suffering burns or being more badly injured.

Vermont Capitol Ltd, of Liverpool, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £980 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 by failing to identify the live mains cable.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Chris Hatton said: “This young worker is extremely lucky to be alive after suffering an electric shock from a mains cable likely to be carrying at least 240 volts of power.

“It’s vital that developers take the risks seriously from gas pipes and electricity cables and get written confirmation that supplies have been disconnected before starting work. Otherwise lives will continue to be put at risk.”

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