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Skatepark teen’s electric shock after council safety failings

September 25 2013

A city council could face a personal injury compensation claim after a teenager was given an electric shock at a skate park.

The 13-year-old had to have a finger amputated following the incident Newport International Sports Village. He had gone to turn on the floodlights, unaware the electrical cabinet had been vandalised.

As he went for the switch, he suffered an electric shock resulting in amputation of his left index finger. He also required a skin graft on his middle finger.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), investigated the incident and prosecuted Newport City Council at Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court yesterday after identifying serious failings in the management of safety at the venue

HSE found that the door of the cabinet had been forced open and vandalised so that electrical parts at 240v were exposed.

A park ranger had identified that the cabinet was damaged, but no action was taken to repair it. There was a history of the cabinet being forced open and vandalism had occurred on three previous occasions.

The court was told the council failed to judge the risks properly and so control measures were not put in place, such as greater security measures for the cabinet or arranging for a residual-current device (RCD) to be fitted.

There should have also been better supervision of the skate park and the electrical cabinet should have been marked to warn of the dangers.

Newport City Council, of Civic Centre, Newport, South Wales, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £5,000. The Council was also ordered to pay costs of £9,477.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Joanne Carter said: “Anyone close to or touching the exposed live parts was in danger of serious injury from electric shock. The fact that the cabinet was located in a damp environment could also have made a shock more severe.

“It is disappointing that the health and safety management by the Council didn’t address the risks that manifested. They failed to put in systems to control the risk, did not communicate the risks to employees and did not inspect the cabinet. Nor did they improve the mechanical protection of the cabinet or mark it as being an electrical danger.”

If you have suffered personal injury on council-managed property call PM Law solicitors in Sheffield on 0114 2965444.