Paramedics treat an employee on a construction site

B&M fined £1 million after workman suffers injuries from electrical explosion

B&M has been fined £1 million after an electrician was set on fire whilst repairing an electrical fault. The workman’s metal spanner encountered a metallic strip linked to the power distributor, leading to an explosion that left Shahenur Rahman seriously injured. 

On 22 September 2018, Rahman was left needing skin grafts and surgery after his body blew up to almost four times its size. Rahman went into an induced coma for two weeks and remained unable to work for another five months. 

Rahman was employed by the electrical firm Daker Ltd and was attempting to connect a generator to B&M’s low voltage supply. B&M hired him to repair a fault whilst it continued to operate some of its core site functions during high voltage maintenance. The repair was complex, and the working parties needed to coordinate well with the specific time limitations. The parties involved did not plan adequately before the work commenced, coordination was insufficient, and the required documentation was not exchanged.

Both B&M and Daker were found to have failed to ensure the environment was safe for the job after poor planning and execution. 

B&M admitted breaching sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, whilst Daker was in breach of section 2 of the Act. 

Daker's work methods were found to be below the required standards. The circuit power supply was not switched off, putting all workers at the risk of an electric shock.  B&M had failed to appoint a suitably competent person to plan and carry out work to connect temporary generators to their distribution board at the premises, creating an unsafe environment. 

Rahman described the incident as ‘life- changing’. He said:

“To me, my arms look like Freddy Kruger’s from Nightmare on Elm Street. I now can’t play with my little boys as much as I used to and I’m worried about hurting myself, and they are worried about hurting me. I have paranoia of being touched. I do worry about the future as I know the pain will never go away and might get worse, leaving me unable to work and support my family.”

Sentencing Judge, Robert Trevor-Jones, added:

“Quite clearly, these were horrific injuries with pertinent consequences. This was a complex project that necessitated careful coordination. Unfortunately, the defendant had no real control of the project.”

B&M was ordered to pay £1 million whilst Daker was given a £100 fine given the company’s dissolution. 

Roger Clarke from the Health and Safety Executive commented: 

"[The incident] could have been avoided if the companies involved had taken the time to appropriately plan and coordinate tasks to ensure the circuit was dead, eliminating the risk of electrocution to workers.” 

This case has shown the severe consequences when electricity is not managed as a significant risk.