Surveyor dies from complications following electrical explosion

panels under survey

A company has been fined £80,000 following the death of an asbestos surveyor who died from the injuries caused by an electrical explosion - known as arc flash.

Christopher Wayne Early, 64 was carrying out a survey of a large disused fabrication workshop, part of a larger site.

The buillding inparticular was unoccupied, and there was a lack of maintenance carried out to the building, including the electrical infrastructure which was still energised.

There was no labelling or warning signs to indicate that the energy source was still connected. Redundant panels were not marked either to distinguish inactive from active enclosures.

layout of panels

Mr Early opened an electrical cabinet, with dust and debris covering the enclosures from the lack of maintenance. These particles were disturbed within the assembly upon disruption and the deilectric integrity of the air insulating between the live parts was compromised.

A high current occured between these live parts creating a significant blast of energy towards Mr Early, who ended up with significant burns to a third of his body.

While undergoing treatment from his injuries, three months later the father of four passed away from infections and sepsis.

An HSE investigation found the switch room Earley was surveying at the time of the incident was not in an appropriate condition. This created a risk as the live switch panels did not have a warning label indicating they were energised with electricity running through them.

There was no warning of electrical danger at the internal doorway between Shop 7 and the switch room – the internal door itself was missing.

This failure to maintain the switch room in an appropriate condition was the underlying cause of the incident. The primary duty of care belonged to the company operating the site.

HSE inspector Niall Miller said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

after arc flash