• Robert Spicer

British Telecommunications fined £600,000 after workers seriously injured in falls from height

British Telecommunications PLC has been fined after two of its employees were seriously injured in falls from height.

Significant points of the case

  • Two British Telecommunications (BT) Open Reach engineers had been given a job at BT’s Darlington Automatic Telephone Exchange.

  • One of the engineers was installing a cable through a hole on the first floor along a ceiling level cable tray to the Main Distribution Frame (MDF) on the ground floor. In order to carry out this work he was working on a stepladder in amongst the lighting system. He felt a pain in his right arm and fell from the step ladder. He was taken to hospital with head and back injuries.

  • The accident was not properly investigated and later that day the work was allowed to continue. The second engineer continued with the work himself, from a different ladder. However he too fell to the ground and was taken to hospital with serious skull and back injuries. He was blinded in one eye.

  • The work had not been properly assessed or planned, despite workers being exposed to such serious risks as working at height close to an electrical system.

  • Serious failings were also found within the electrical lighting system in that area, where workers were exposed to live metal parts, some at 240 volts. The system was poorly constructed and had not been properly maintained or tested. It is most likely that both engineers received electric shocks which threw them from the ladders.

British Telecommunication PLC was fined £600,000 plus £60,000 costs for a breach of section 2, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of employees.



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