OVERHEAD POWER LINES – FARMING AND DRILLING CONTRACTORS FINED AFTER MAST STRIKES POWER LINE

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Farming and drilling contractors fined after mast strikes power line

Two Norfolk-based companies have been fined after a worker suffered life-changing injuries following an overhead power line strike.

Norwich Crown Court heard that a contract farming company and water engineering company had organised drilling work for the purposes of crop irrigation at Felmingham, Norfolk.

In April 2014, an employee of the water engineering company was operating the controls of a lorry mounted drilling rig. A colleague moved the lorry and its mast came into contact with an 11kV power line over a field. The employee suffered serious injury including extensive burns to his scalp, arms, legs and feet and loss of two toes.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident found that neither company had taken effective precautions to prevent work equipment, including the mast of the drilling rig, which was capable of extending to a height greater than that of the powerlines, from coming into contact with them.

The contract farming company pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £134,000 with £6484,45 costs.

The water engineering company pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £80,400 with £6596,05 costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Jessica Churchyard said:

“This tragic incident has had devastating consequences for [the employee] and his family.

“Similar incidents involving overhead power line strikes remain all too common in Great Britain and are almost always entirely avoidable.

“Duty holders planning, organising and carrying out such work must ensure that site-specific risks are identified and controlled. Where hazardous electrical conductors need to be kept live, workers and equipment must be kept at a safe distance from them.

“Here, no effective precautions were implemented and workers were put at potentially lethal risk with [the employee] suffering injuries which will affect him for the rest of his life.”

Overhead power lines

What you need to know

Accidental contact with live overhead power lines kills people and causes many serious injuries every year. People are also harmed when a person or object gets too close to a line and a flashover occurs. Work involving high vehicles or long equipment is particularly high risk, such as;

In Construction – Lorry mounted cranes (such as Hiabs), Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWP’s), scaffold poles, tipper vehicles, cranes, ladders;

In Agriculture – combines, sprayer booms, materials handlers, tipper vehicles, ladders, irrigation pipes, polytunnels; Remember:

  • going close to a live overhead line can result in a flashover that may kill. Touching a power line is not necessary for danger;
  • voltages lower than 230 volts can kill and injure people;
  • do not mistake overhead power lines on wooden poles for telephone wires; and
  • electricity can bypass wood, plastic or rubber, if it is damp or dirty, and cause fatal shocks. Don’t rely on gloves or rubber boots to protect you.

You can download a free leaflet called “Safe working near overhead power lines in agriculture” (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/withdrawn/indg389.htm)

The guidance note “Avoiding danger from overhead power lines” (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/gs6.htm) describes how to work safely near overhead power lines in a range of industries.

The Electricity Networks Association (ENA) publications:

  • Safety Information for Farmers and Agricultural Contractors
  • Watch It! In the Vicinity of Overhead Lines
  • Safety Information for Farmers Utilising Polytunnels
  • Safe tree working in proximity to overhead electric lines ENA Engineering Recommendation G55/1
  • The ENA also provide advice on what to do if machinery comes into contact with an overhead power line.

What you need to do

Plan and manage work near electric overhead power lines so that risks from accidental contact or close proximity to the lines are adequately controlled.

Safety precautions will depend on the nature of the work and will be essential even when work near the line is of short duration.

Safety can be achieved by a combination of measures:

  • Planning and preparation
  • Eliminating the danger
  • Controlling the access
  • Controlling the work

Planning and preparation

The first step is to find out whether there is any overhead power line within or immediately next to the work area, or across any access route.

Information will be available from the local electricity supplier or Distribution Network Operator (DNO). If any overhead lines are found, you should assume that they are live unless proved otherwise by their owners.

If there are any overhead lines over the work area, near the site boundaries, or over access roads to the work area, consult the owners of the lines so that the proposed plan of work can be discussed.

Allow sufficient time for lines to be diverted or made dead, or for other precautions to be taken as described below.

Eliminating the danger

You can eliminate the danger by:

  • Avoidance – find out if the work really has to be carried out under or near overhead lines, and can’t be done somewhere else. Make sure materials (such as bales or spoil) are not placed near overhead lines, and temporary structures (such as polytunnels) are erected outside safe clearance distances;
  • Diversion – arrange for overhead lines to be diverted away from the work area; or Isolation – arrange for lines to be made dead while the work is being done.

In some cases you may need to use a suitable combination of these measures, particularly where overhead lines pass over permanent work areas.

If the danger cannot be eliminated, you should manage the risk by controlling access to, and work beneath, overhead power lines.

Controlling the access

Where there is no scheduled work or requirement for access under the lines, barriers should be erected at the correct clearance distance away from the line to prevent close approach. The safe clearance distance should be ascertained from the Distribution Network Operator (DNO). HSE guidance documents Avoidance of danger from overhead electric power lines and Electricity at Work: Forestry and Arboriculture also provide advice on safe clearance distances and how barriers should be constructed. Where there is a requirement to pass beneath the lines, defined passageways should be made.

The danger area should be made as small as possible by restricting the width of the passageway to the minimum needed for the safe crossing of plant. The passageway should cross the route of the overhead line at right angles if possible.

Controlling the work

If work beneath live overhead power lines cannot be avoided, barriers, goal posts and warning notices should be provided. Where field work is taking place it may be impractical to erect barriers and goal posts around the overhead lines – these are more appropriate for use at gateways, on tracks and at access points to farm yards.

The following precautions may also be needed to manage the risk:

  • Clearance – the safe clearance required beneath the overhead lines should be found by contacting the Distribution Network Operator (DNO);
  • Exclusion – vehicles, plant, machinery, equipment, or materials that could reach beyond the safe clearance distance should not be taken near the line;
  • Modifications – Vehicles such as cranes, excavators and tele-handlers should be modified by the addition of suitable physical restraints so that they cannot reach beyond the safe clearance distances, measures should be put in place to ensure these restraints are effective and cannot be altered or tampered with;
  • Maintenance – operators of high machinery should be instructed not carry out any work on top of the machinery near overhead power lines;
  • Supervision – access for plant and materials and the working of plant should be under the direct supervision of a suitable person appointed to ensure that safety precautions are observed.

What to do if you come into contact with an OHPL

  • If part of a vehicle or load is in contact with an OHPL, you should remain in the cab and inform the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) immediately (stick the number in a visible place in the cab and keep it on your mobile phone).
  • Warn others to stay away.
  • Try to drive clear. If this is not possible, and you need to leave the vehicle to escape fire, JUMP CLEAR – do not dismount by climbing down the steps.
  • Never try to disentangle equipment until the owner of the line has confirmed that it has been de-energised and made safe.

WARNING: Contact with an overhead power line may cause the power to ‘trip out’ temporarily and it may be re-energised automatically, without warning.

Your local Distribution Network Operator (DNO) can generally supply stickers describing emergency procedures and containing contact numbers that can be stuck in the cabs of vehicles likely to be used near overhead power lines.

The leaflet called Safe working near overhead power lines in agriculture and the Electricity Networks Association (ENA) publications Safety Information for Farmers and Agricultural Contractors and Watch It! In the Vicinity of Overhead Lines provide advice on what to do if machinery or equipment comes into contact with an overhead power line.

Find out more

This 4 page information sheet gives lots of practical guidance on how to avoid danger when working near overhead power lines. It is aimed at those working in agriculture, but many of the principles described are applicable to other work activities. Topics covered include safe working distances from overhead lines, assessing and reducing the risks from overhead lines, use of barriers and goalposts, operating vehicles near overhead lines, ladders, and the safe stacking of materials.

General electrical information

There is also a priced interactive CD produced by HSE that provides a lot of general advice regarding electrical matters: http://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/information.htm#cd

The Simple Precautions (http://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/precautions.htm) and Frequently asked Questions (http://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/faq.htm) web pages will help you to select the best guidance on working with electricity.

Many other organisations provide information about electrical matters: http://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/links.htm

Information on accident statistics is also available from a number of sources: http://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/links.htm

For more information, visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/information/overhead.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 29TH SEPTEMBER 2016

We hope you find our news updates useful. If you know of anyone who may benefit from reading them, please encourage them to register at the bottom-left of our news page (http://www.eljay.co.uk/news/) and we’ll email them a link each time an update is published. If in the unlikely event any difficulties are experienced whilst registering we’ll be more than happy to help and can be contacted on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

Safer Sites target inspections – coming to a street near you

HSE construction inspectors will be carrying out unannounced visits to sites where refurbishment projects or repair works are underway.

This year the Initiative is being undertaken as a series of two week inspections across the country, beginning 3 October 2016 ending 4 November 2016.

During this period inspectors will ensure high-risk activities, particularly those affecting the health of workers, are being properly managed.

These include:

  • risks to health from exposure to dust such as silica are being controlled
  • workers are aware of where they may find asbestos, and what to do if they find it
  • other health risks, such as exposure to noise and vibration, manual handling and hazardous substances are being properly managed
  • jobs that involve working at height have been identified and properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions, such as proper support of structures, are in place
  • equipment is correctly installed / assembled, inspected and maintained and used properly
  • sites are well organised, to avoid trips and falls, walkways and stairs are free from obstructions and welfare facilities are adequate

Where serious breaches of legislation are found then immediate enforcement action will be taken, but inspectors will also be taking steps to secure a positive change in behaviour to ensure on-going compliance.

Health and safety breaches with clients and designers will also be followed up to reinforce their duties under CDM 2015 and to ensure that all dutyholders with on site health and safety responsibilities understand and fulfil these.

Follow the SaferSites Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SaferSites)  to see what inspectors find on site and keep updated throughout the initiative.

How to manage your site safely (click on the links for more info):    

For more information, visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/index.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

 

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 23RD JULY 2015

IN THIS UPDATE:

Introduction

New & Changed Legislation & Regulations

• The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015)
• Landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties
• Drugs and driving: the law
• Simpler explosives and acetylene regulations
• Storing petrol safely

New & Revised Guidance

Guidance Documents
• A guide to workplace transport safety
• The selection, management and use of mobile elevating work platforms

Web Pages
• Dust Hub
• Illness caused by welding fume and gases
• COSHH e-tool
• Health and safety for disabled people
• Noise and Vibration Partnership Group
• IOSH – No time to lose

Introduction

To coincide with the launch of our new website, we’re changing the way we keep our readers up to date with health & safety news, and the support and training services we provide.

From now on, we’ll be posting weekly updates to this page, and you can register below-left to receive email notifications of these. If you experience any difficulty with this, please send an email to fiona@eljay.co.uk with your user name and email address, and we’ll register your details for you. Each time an update is published, you’ll receive an email containing a link to the post which you can then view, share and/or print off. You can unsubscribe at any time, and each email will contain an unsubscription link for this purpose.

This week, we’re focussing on health & safety legislation and regulations that have changed or been introduced since the last quarter of 2014, as well as providing an overview of new and revised guidance. Next week, we’ll be de-bunking a few myths and sharing what’s new in the world of health & safety.

New & Changed Legislation & Regulations

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015)

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) came into force in April 2015, replacing CDM 2007. So what do you need to do? Virtually everyone involved in a construction project has legal duties under CDM 2015. These ‘dutyholders’ are defined as follows.

Client – Anyone who has construction work carried out for them. The main duty for clients is to make sure their project is suitably managed, ensuring the health and safety of all who might be affected by the work, including members of the public. CDM 2015 recognises two types of client:

commercial clients – have construction work carried out as part of their business. This could be an individual, partnership or company and includes property developers and companies managing domestic properties (click on link for roles & responsibilities: http://www.hse.gov.uk/Construction/cdm/2015/commercial-clients.htm)

domestic clients – have construction work carried out for them but not in connection with any business – usually work done on their own home or the home of a family member. CDM 2015 does not require domestic clients to carry out client duties as these normally pass to other dutyholders (click on link for roles & responsibilities: http://www.hse.gov.uk/Construction/cdm/2015/domestic-clients.htm)

Designer – An organisation or individual whose work involves preparing or modifying designs, drawings, specifications, bills of quantity or design calculations. Designers can be architects, consulting engineers and quantity surveyors, or anyone who specifies and alters designs as part of their work. They can also include tradespeople if they carry out design work. The designer’s main duty is to eliminate, reduce or control foreseeable risks that may arise during construction work, or in the use and maintenance of the building once built. Designers work under the control of a principal designer on projects with more than one contractor. (Click on link for roles & responsibilities: http://www.hse.gov.uk/Construction/cdm/2015/designers.htm)

Principal designer – A designer appointed by the client to control the pre-construction phase on projects with more than one contractor. The principal designer’s main duty is to plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety during this phase, when most design work is carried out. (Click on link for roles & responsibilities: http://www.hse.gov.uk/Construction/cdm/2015/principal-designers.htm)

Principal contractor – A contractor appointed by the client to manage the construction phase on projects with more than one contractor. The principal contractor’s main duty is to plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety during this phase, when all construction work takes place. (Click on link for roles & responsibilities: http://www.hse.gov.uk/Construction/cdm/2015/principal-contractors.htm)

Contractor – An individual or business in charge of carrying out construction work (eg building, altering, maintaining or demolishing). Anyone who manages this work or directly employs or engages construction workers is a contractor. Their main duty is to plan, manage and monitor the work under their control in a way that ensures the health and safety of anyone it might affect (including members of the public). Contractors work under the control of the principal contractor on projects with more than one contractor. (Click on link for roles & responsibilities: http://www.hse.gov.uk/Construction/cdm/2015/contractors.htm)

Worker – An individual who actually carries out the work involved in building, altering, maintaining or demolishing buildings or structures. Workers include: plumbers, electricians, scaffolders, painters, decorators, steel erectors and labourers, as well as supervisors like foremen and chargehands. Their duties include cooperating with their employer and other dutyholders, reporting anything they see that might endanger the health and safety of themselves or others. Workers must be consulted on matters affecting their health, safety and welfare. (Click on link for roles & responsibilities: http://www.hse.gov.uk/Construction/cdm/2015/workers.htm)

Click on the following link for a summary of duties under CDM 2015, or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk for clarification or further information: http://www.hse.gov.uk/Construction/cdm/2015/summary.htm

Landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties

Landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties, under measures announced by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis today (11 March 2015).

The move will help prevent up to 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year.

The measure is expected to take effect from October 2015, and comes with strong support after a consultation on property condition in the private rented sector.

England’s 46 fire and rescue authorities are expected to support private landlords in their own areas to meet their new responsibilities with the provision of free alarms, with grant funding from government.

This is part of wider government moves to ensure there are sufficient measures in place to protect public safety, while at the same time avoiding regulation which would push up rents and restrict the supply of homes, limiting choice for tenants. For more information, click on the link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tenants-safer-under-new-government-measures or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk

Drugs and driving: the law

It’s illegal to drive if either:

• you’re unfit to do so because you’re on legal or illegal drugs
• you have certain levels of illegal drugs in your blood (even if they haven’t affected your driving)

Legal drugs are prescription or over-the-counter medicines. If you’re taking them and not sure if you should drive, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or healthcare professional.

The police can stop you and make you do a ‘field impairment assessment’ if they think you’re on drugs. This is a series of tests, eg asking you to walk in a straight line. They can also use a roadside drug kit to screen for cannabis and cocaine.

If they think you’re unfit to drive because of taking drugs, you’ll be arrested and will have to take a blood or urine test at a police station.

You could be charged with a crime if the test shows you’ve taken drugs.

Prescription medicines

It’s illegal in England and Wales to drive with legal drugs in your body if it impairs your driving.

It’s an offence to drive if you have over the specified limits of certain drugs in your blood and you haven’t been prescribed them.

Talk to your doctor about whether you should drive if you’ve been prescribed any of the following drugs:

• amphetamine, eg dexamphetamine or selegiline
• clonazepam
• diazepam
• flunitrazepam
• lorazepam
• methadone
• morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, eg codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
• oxazepam
• temazepam

You can drive after taking these drugs if:

• you’ve been prescribed them and followed advice on how to take them by a healthcare professional
• they aren’t causing you to be unfit to drive even if you’re above the specified limits

You could be prosecuted if you drive with certain levels of these drugs in your body and you haven’t been prescribed them.

The law doesn’t cover Northern Ireland and Scotland but you could still be arrested if you’re unfit to drive.

For more information, click on the link: https://www.gov.uk/drug-driving-law or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk

Simpler explosives and acetylene regulations

New laws on working safely with explosives and compressed acetylene gas took effect last Autumn.

Two new sets of consolidated regulations – The Explosives Regulations 2014 (ER) (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/1638/contents/made) and The Acetylene Safety (England and Wales and Scotland) Regulations 2014 (ASR) (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/1639/contents/made) came into force on 1 October 2014.

The revised regulations, which apply to the explosives industry and those who manufacture and store compressed acetylene gas, will help to reduce the regulatory burden on business and regulators by clarifying and simplifying requirements.

They have replaced the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) for the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005, a number of legislative instruments and the current explosives guidance.

Guidance produced to support ER, 2014 can be found at:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l150.htm
http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l151.htm

Revised guidance on working safely with acetylene can be found at:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg327.htm

Contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk for clarification of the above, or further information.

Storing petrol safely

Petrol is a dangerous substance; it is a highly flammable liquid and can give off vapour which can easily be set on fire and when not handled safely has the potential to cause a serious fire and/or explosion.

This means there is always a risk of a fire and/or an explosion if there is a source of ignition nearby, for example a naked flame, an electrical spark or similar. Because of these risks storing petrol safely is covered by legislation; and this applies to you if you store petrol.

What is the law on storing petrol safely?

The Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014 (PCR) link to external website which came into force on 1 October 2014 apply to:

• workplaces that store petrol where petrol is dispensed, ie retail and non retail petrol filling stations
• non-workplace premises storing petrol, for example at private homes, or at clubs/associations (or similar)

Petroleum Enforcement Authorities (PEAs), formerly Petroleum Licensing Authorities (PLAs) are responsible for enforcing the Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014. They also continue to enforce DSEAR at workplaces covered by PCR. This means that there is no change to the current enforcing arrangements.

The safe storage and use of petrol in workplaces is also covered by the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR).

Who does this apply to?

Information on how the Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014 applies to the following groups:

• If you are an owner/employee of a petrol filling station
• If you store petrol at home, or at a club/association or similar premises
• If you design, manufacture or supply portable petrol storage containers
• If your workplace stores but does not dispense petrol

What does this legislation replace?

The Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014 combine, update and replace all previous legislation on petrol storage. The existing health and safety responsibilities remain the same; anything that is still relevant is included in the 2014 Regulations.

For more information, click on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/fireandexplosion/petroleum.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk

New & Revised Guidance

New and revised guidance is listed below. Please click on the accompanying links for more information.

Guidance Documents

A guide to workplace transport safety (HSG136 – published Sept 2014)
http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg136.htm

The selection, management and use of mobile elevating work platforms – Safe working practices (GEIS6 – published 2014)
http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/geis6.htm

Web Pages

Dust Hub (provides information to help employers control exposure to dust in the workplace http://www.hse.gov.uk/dust/

Illness caused by welding fume and gases: there will be people who don’t get ill but some welders do get ill from breathing welding fume. Some may be ill for only a short time, others may get permanent illnesses like asthma. There is no easy way to know if it will be you. A few welders get so ill they have to stop welding and find a new career. http://www.hse.gov.uk/welding/illness.htm

COSHH e-tool: easy steps to control health risks from chemicals http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/coshh-tool.htm

Health and safety for disabled people: this guidance will help those employing disabled people to understand their health and safety responsibilities. http://www.hse.gov.uk/disability/

Noise and Vibration Partnership Group: includes noise and hand-arm vibration posters http://www.hse.gov.uk/noise/nv-partnership-group.htm

IOSH – No time to lose: Working together to beat occupational cancer http://www.iosh.co.uk/NTTL/Home/About-NTTL.aspx

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

Also contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.