Firm fined £275,000 over man's death

First published in News

A POWER company has been fined £275,000 over the death of an electrical engineer.

John Higgins died from horrific injuries while carrying out maintenance work at an electricity sub-station.

As the 59-year-old worked on a piece of equipment, there was an explosion at the site, in Chelmsford, and he was engulfed in burning oil.

His employers were told by a judge there should have been proper procedures in place for the way Mr Higgins was attempting to sort out the problem.

But Chelmsford Crown Court heard a system of “culture and practice” had grown over the years around the way the incident Mr Higgins was called to fix was dealt with.

Mr Higgins, of Albany Road, West Bergholt, had been called to the sub-station, in Bishop Hall Lane, shortly after noon on May 7, 2008. He was six months from retirement.

The incident caused major electrical disruption to Chelmsford with the police station, crown court and Broomfield Hospital all cut off.

It prompted an investigation by Essex Police, the fire brigade, the Health and Safety Executive and EDF Energy.

UK Power Networks (Operations) Ltd, owned by EDF Energy until 2010, admitted failing to discharge its duty as an employer in a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive.

The firm was fined £275,000 plus £145,000 costs.

No compensation was awarded as this has been decided by the civil courts, the hearing was told.

After the case, Mr Higgins’s wife Sheila paid tribute to the Health and Safety Executive for its hard work in bringing the prosecution.

She said: “They are making sure John’s colleagues have a safer working environment and get to go home to their families at the end of ther day.”

The court heard UK Power Networks had now introduced procedures and had passed on information to all the other firms in the country which use similar equipment.

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