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Camerons Ltd and DB Cummins Ltd each fined for health and safety failings involving live electrical services

06 October 2021

Camerons Ltd and DB Cummins Ltd were each fined £55,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 costs by the Royal Court on 20th August 2021 after pleading guilty to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Law 1989.  The prosecution followed an incident on 29th July 2020 when a building on the redevelopment project at 78-92 Bath Street, St Helier was demolished with a live electrical cable that had supplied a streetlight still attached to the façade.  

Camerons was the Principal Contractor for the project.  Investigation by the Health and Safety Inspectorate identified the company had requested that JEC remove a streetlight, bracket and electricity cabling from the front façade of No 82 Bath Street which was due to be demolished.   JEC attended to carry out the work on 7th July 2020 and removed the streetlight and bracket but were unable to remove the live cable to pavement level until scaffolding had been removed.

Camerons, in turn, informed the demolition contractor, DB Cummins, on 7th July, that the live cable was still attached to the building and that the JEC was scheduled to return and isolate the cable on 10th July. However, the isolation did not happen as planned as the scaffolding had not been removed so the live cable remained in-situ on the facade.  On 28th July the Managing Director of DB Cummins was verbally reminded by the Camerons Project Manager that the cable was still in situ and to be careful. Despite this warning, employees of DB Cummins involved in the demolition work were not told of the presence of the live cable before demolishing No 82 Bath Street on 29th July 2020. 

Once work had been completed, the Project Manager realised that the wall supporting the live electrical cable had been demolished resulting in the live electrical cabling potentially being buried amongst the rubble.  JEC engineers were forced to disconnect power to a number of local businesses and properties whilst the pavement was excavated to make the area safe. 

In sentencing, Lieutenant Bailiff Anthony Olsen stated that both companies were equally culpable for the risks created and the subsequent breach of the law. As the Principal Contractor, Camerons had a responsibility to ensure the live service had been disconnected prior to demolition work being carried out and should have taken greater care to manage the work of their contractor, whilst DB Cummins should not have proceeded with the demolition without being satisfied that all necessary disconnections had been made.

Further Information

Guidance on safe systems of work and the precautions required to minimise the risks of working near underground and overhead services is set out in the HSI publication 'Working safely and avoiding danger from underground services and other utility apparatus'

Guidance on the Electricity at Work (Jersey) Regulations 1983 

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