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NE electrocution causes head injury

14th May 2014
A man from the northeast could make a personal injury claim after he suffered severe injuries after the equipment he was using came into contact with a 22,000-volt overhead cable.

35-year-old John Dodsworth was employed by James Kennedy as a pump operator and was working with Lumsden & Carroll Construction when they were working on sewer repairs in Country Durham in 2008.

After successfully pouring concrete from a pump on the end of a 12-foot-long boom, John was repositioning the equipment when it came into contact with the power lines.

This caused him to receive a serious electric shock, which caused a head injury that required the removal of part of his skull and left extensive scarring.

He also experienced internal and external burning to his hands, chest and legs and would have died if he hadn't been given immediate emergency treatment and taken to hospital by the local air ambulance.

Following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Darlington magistrates' court heard that John's employers could have either relocated the work compound away from the cables or, failing that, use alternative equipment.

The court also heard that John still suffers constant pain that may last for the rest of his life, may not be able to return to work and can no longer take part in sports or family life, all of which could strengthen his case in a personal injury claim.

James Kennedy was fined £2,000 over the incident, whilst Lumsden and Carroll were fined £5,000, but had their annual insurance premium increased by £100,000 as a result of the accident, according to David de Jehan from the firm.

Burns accounted for 2,967 work incidents in 2009/2010, according to the HSE, including one death.

The figures also show overhead cables caused ten injuries over the period, whilst there was a total of 792 incidents caused by power supplies.

As well as burns, exposure to electricity can also cause a loss of muscle control.

The resulting spasms can be strong enough to break bones and dislocate joints, or even cause the victim to be thrown into nearby machinery, so this reaction to electrocution can ultimately result in serious injury.

Reported by Bryony Flack-Crane