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UK company director receives suspended sentence after lorry touches overhead power lines

10 November 2017

On November 2, the director of a London-based waste contractor was fined and given a suspended sentence after a lorry contacted 132kV overhead power lines in North London. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that the company put no controls in place to prevent vehicles coming into contact with overhead power lines.

Southwark Crown Court heard how, on 10 June 2013, Hanly Waste Services Limited had been contracted to construct a bund (an earth hill) on a farm, directly underneath overhead power lines. A lorry tipping on top of the bund came into contact with the overhead power lines causing arcing which damaged both the wires and the lorry. Fortunately, the driver was unhurt, although contact with power lines can result in death.

Hanly Waste Services Limited had received advice from UK Power Networks, the power network operator, about working near overhead power lines on a number of occasions both before and after the incident as the company had continually failed to implement controls and reduce the bund level to achieve minimum statutory clearances.

Donal Hanly pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,068.34. The judge also imposed a six month prison sentence suspended for 12 months and a Director Disqualification order for a period of seven years.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Gabriella Dimitrov said: “This was a very serious incident and it is fortunate nobody was injured.  The incident could easily have been avoided by introducing control measures and safe working practices.  Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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