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Birse Metro fined over explosion death

Birse Metro has been ordered to pay £210,000 in fines and costs after an employee died while working on the firm’s contract to divert utilities ahead of construction of London Underground’s new station at Tottenham Court Road.

Construction operative Ioan Boboc, 22, from north-west London, died after receiving burns over 60% of his body in an explosion, which happened when an 11kV cable was damaged while he and other workers were using breakers and a shovel in an excavation.

Southwark Crown Court heard last week that Birse Metro had not informed workers that there were live cables in the excavation, and that the company had failed to put adequate measures in place prevent them from coming into contact with the cable.

The contractor pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £167,000 and ordered to pay £43,000 in costs in the case brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

After the hearing HSE inspector Lisa Chappell said: “The dangers associated with live underground cables are well-known to those carrying out groundworks in the construction industry. Clear guidance on avoiding contact with them is freely available to companies undertaking this work.

“This incident highlights the absolute necessity for such work to be properly planned and managed. Operatives should be briefed on the presence of cables and a safe system of working should be robustly enforced.”

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