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Fine for worker's death at Essex electricity sub-station

05 March 2014

UK Power Networks has been fined £275,000 over the death of a worker in an explosion and fire at an electricity sub-station in Essex. The worker died from the effects of burns and inhalation of toxic gases at an EDF sub station in Chelmsford, Essex,  in May 2008. The company was also ordered to pay £145,000 costs at Chelmsford Crown Court.

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The company admitted one charge of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.
The electrical engineer died when a device he was working on for manually adjusting voltage ratios, known as a transformer tap changer, exploded, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said.

The explosion caused a fire at the substation and Mr Higgins died at the scene despite the arrival of Essex Fire and Rescue within minutes of the alarm being raised by staff from nearby Anglia Ruskin University, it added.

The incident also blacked out a large part of Chelmsford, including Broomfield Hospital.
The HSE said its investigation found UK Power Networks had failed to properly assess work with tap changers and to devise procedures for the work. It had also failed to adequately train employees for carrying out this task.

UK Power Networks, which supplies power to the east of England, London and the south east, has since introduced revised procedures to safeguard staff, the HSE said.

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