British Solar Renewables (BSR) could face a hefty fine after admitting failure to ensure the safety of workers that suffered electrical shocks during the development of a solar farm in Devon in 2013.
The company was building a solar farm at Knockworthy Farm near Torrington in March 2013 where electrical firm Pascon had failed to create a safe route directing operators of heavy plant away from live overhead cables. The bucket of a digger moving along a trench beneath the power lines hit and brought down the cables, leading to three workers suffering electrical shocks.
The contractor, which has already admitted a single charge of failing to plan, manage and monitor construction work adequately, had not provided ‘goal posts’ on the site to offer a safe crossing point where the cables had been diverted or the supply turned off.
In its capacity as employer for the project, BSR admitted to Exeter Crown Court that it had failed to ensure the safety of the power cables at the site on 13 March 2013, and was found to be in breach of construction, design and management (CDM) regulations. The company was expected to provide warning notices in an area where vehicles were moving beneath cables or provide a sufficient level of safety by isolating the cables.
According to Western Morning News, Judge Francis Gilbert, QC said: “There was a trench straight underneath the cables where there were no goal posts. There was no protection for anyone under the wires at that point. These sort of goalposts are always needed on a construction site.”
Joseph Hart, QC for BSR, claimed the accident occurred in a dog leg where it was difficult to create a protected area.
A statement released to Solar Power Portal by BSR stated: “BSR pleaded guilty to one charge, which is a breach of the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007.
“BSR has always, and continues to take its construction design management responsibilities seriously and has invested in people and systems to ensure that BSR is compliant with the regulations wherever the company operates.”
Both cases have been adjourned for sentencing until next month after the judge asked both BSR and Pascon to provide details of their accounts to help establish the correct level of fines.