Construction Heavyweight Sanctioned for Numerous Violations

| General

In mid-January 2023 news emerged of a substantial financial sanction handed down to industry heavyweight Keir in connection with violations of safety regulations.

What Happened In The Case?

The case centred around two events which had occurred involving some staff members who on the facts appeared to have collided with wiring positioned above the ground, and secondly where wiring had been physically present on a stretch of motorway. When the Health and Safety Executive carried out its investigation into the events which had taken place, it found evidence that the construction leader had neglected to notify the proprietor of the presence of the wiring equipment. The matter was taken so seriously by the Regulator because the wiring remained present on the road for some considerable time and had electrical current running through them whilst vehicles were driving on the road and the public were exposed to risk.   

Lessons Learned? 

Those advising businesses working near overhead wires should be paying close order to this case. They should be advising their clients to mitigate the likelihood of similar events occurring in future years by taking the following action, tactics, and strategies suggested by industry regulator the Health and Safety Executive. They should be strongly considering:

  1. closely collaborating with affected persons throughout the project if any overhead wires are positioned near the site, this applies regardless of the type of work being planned or undertaken, even if the work is of a short duration
  2. managing the risks if work is intended to be carried out within a ten-meter distance measured at ground level horizontally from below the nearest wire.
  3. remove risks by not carrying out work if there is a wire collision risk
  4. consult affected property proprietors in order to find out if the line can be permanently diverted away from the work area or replaced with underground cables. This will often be inappropriate for infrequent, short-duration, or, transitory work.
  5. if this cannot be done and there remains a risk of contact or close approach to the wires, find out if the overhead line can be temporarily switched off during the work period and
  6. remember that the proprietor will need time to consider and act upon these types of requests. Such persons may charge for work carried out.

So What Can Be Done if Contact With Wires is Unavoidable?

Affected persons should follow the above steps to control the risk and ensure a project can be conducted safely by avoiding contact with overhead wiring, steering clear of the equipment, and ensuring it is switched off. The Health and Safety Executive advise that if it is impossible, the work should not be done at all. The body advises that such choices on whether to proceed or cease should be based on a risk assessment. So how should such an important decision be made? The body advises affected persons to take some steps, including: 

  1. communicating with a professional person specializing in the area with equipment the Health and Safety Executive describes as ‘non-measuring devices’
  2. the type of activity to be carried out
  3. if it will be conducted near or under the wiring
  4. if access is required to the wiring, assess the reach and size of the resources if they are to be utilized close to the wiring 
  5. liaise closely with affected persons to put resources a safe clearance distance between it and the wiring and
  6. approach the wiring proprietor for guidance on the space required for safety purposes. 

This will reduce the risks of future collisions taking place. 


#BlakeMorgan #LClyde&CoLLP #CapsticksLLP #Hempsons #KingsleyNapleyLLP &RadcliffesLeBrasseur #BatesWells #CMS #DACBeachcroftLLP #FieldFisher #HerbertSmithFreehills #Russell-CookeLLP #BlackfordsLLP #CharlesRussellSpeechlysLLP #KeoughLLP #MurdochsSolicitors #StepehensonsSolicItorsLLP


[SOURCE 1] The Construction Index – Kier fined £4.4m for repeat safety breaches – 16 January 2023 - Kier fined £4.4m for repeat safety breaches (

[SOURCE 2] Health and Safety Executive – Avoid danger from overhead power lines – Guidance Note GS6 (Fourth edition) - Avoiding danger from overhead power lines GS6 (

[SOURCE 3] The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 - The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (



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