Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Friday, 11 April 2008 15:30 UK

Firm fined over worker set ablaze

A utility firm has been fined 32,000 for failing to make safe a live cable which then set a man on fire.

SP Power Systems, a Scottish Power subsidiary, should have tackled the danger five months earlier, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Plasterer Peter Mason, 22, ran for 40 metres and then rolled himself in a puddle of mud to extinguish the fire at Great George Street, Liverpool.

Mr Mason spent three weeks in a burns unit after the accident in March 2007.

Simon Parrington, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said the incident could have proved fatal for Mr Mason and his workmates.

There was a bright flash and an explosion accompanied by a loud roaring noise
Simon Parrington

He said SP Power Systems had been told of the live cable danger, at the site in October 2006.

Although it had been temporarily made safe by electricians, poor communications between SP Power Systems' staff meant the fault was thought to have been fixed.

Five months later Mr Mason was in the premises with colleagues Kieran Williams, 17, and Terence Hart, 31, and grabbed the cable when he tripped.

Mr Parrington said: "There was a bright flash and an explosion accompanied by a loud roaring noise."

Mr Williams was thrown to the ground and Mr Mason was struck by the blast.

"Mr Mason attempted to run away, but fell over some cables that were left on the ground," Mr Parrington added.

"Although in flames, he managed to leave the room and once inside a corridor rolled around on the concrete floor unsuccessfully attempting to put the flames out.

"He then ran along the corridor - still on fire - to leave the building and jumped into a puddle in the mud outside the premises to extinguish the flames."

Dangerous situations

SP Power Systems pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable steps that persons not in their employment were not exposed to risks.

Stuart Denney, mitigating, said the company had rigorous procedures for reporting potentially dangerous situations.

He said there had been a misunderstanding in this case and that steps had been taken to ensure it would never happen again.

The company was fined 32,000 and ordered to pay 13,000 costs.

Judge Nigel Gilmour, QC, said, the company could not be criticised for the temporary repair but for the procedures in place afterwards.

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