Sentence after self-employed builder suffers serious electric shock

A real estate lettings company was sentenced today for safety breaches after a self- employed builder suffered first and third degree burns to his face, hands, neck and chest.

The injured worker 50-year-old Michael Phillips suffered an electric shock in October 2015 when he was carrying out work for IPH Investments Ltd at an address in Station Parade Harrogate.

The premises were being converted into a sunbed and beauty salon. The usual supply for most domestic dwellings is 240v but because this supply was feeding both shop premises and residential flats a larger supply was needed (400v). The company needed to carry out some preparatory work before the new supply could be installed. This involved the digging out of a small trench in the hallway of the site so that a new electricity supply could be installed into the property. While digging the trench Mr Phillips struck the existing live service cable with the small breaker he was using.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the firm over the incident. IPH Investments Ltd of Orchard House Haywra Street Harrogate pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £53,000.00 with £654.60 costs by Leeds Magistrates Court.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Jayne Towey commented: “This case was entirely preventable if the company had carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment before work began.

“The company could have used a cable avoidance tool (CAT) before any digging was carried out. This would have helped to locate the buried electrical service.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at:
  3. HSE news releases are available at
  4. For further information see HSE’s guide to doing it the right way:

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