Northamptonshire housing developer fined after bringing down power lines

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A Rushton housing developer has been fined after its failure to provide adequate warning signs caused a tipper lorry to hit overhead power lines, cutting the electricity supply to nearby homes.

The lorry, belonging to Hazelton Homes (Midlands) Ltd, was making a delivery to a Hazelton Homes housing development, Old Hall Close in Cottesmore, on March 28, 2012, when the raised tipper body struck the power lines above, bringing them to the ground.

The strike caused a power cut to 11 homes nearby which were without electricity for three hours.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the company at Leicester Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, July 2.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Linda-Jane Rigby said: “A number of people die every year when they accidentally make contact with electrical cables. It was only a matter of luck that no-one was seriously injured or killed in this incident.”

Hazelton Homes pleaded guilty to breaching construction regulations which state that where there is a risk from electric power cables suitable warning notices must be in place, and that where vehicles need to pass beneath the cables there must be suspended protections.

HSE found that these procedures were not in place at the site, and that the power lines had not been made dead or redirected away from the access road.

The court also heard that two-and-a-half weeks prior to the incident Hazelton Homes had received warning of the dangers of overhead power lines, and the need for warning signs, from the company’s quantity surveyor.

When HSE inspectors re-visited the site eight months after the incident, on November 6, 2012, they found that the company had failed to continue to uphold health and safety regulations. Signs warning of the presence of overhead power lines had been removed, as had the goal post warning of a height restriction that sits across the entrance to the site.

The company was fined £8,000 with costs of £4,214.

Ms Rigby said that the incident was “entirely preventable.”

She said: “The need for goalposts and warning signs had been drawn to the attention of Hazleton Homes shortly before this incident, but the directors failed to put the necessary measures in place. Once remedial steps were taken, the company failed to ensure they remained in place. This incident arose from a clear failure to assess and manage the risks associated with the presence of overhead power lines.”