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Kier fined £4.2 million after workers twice struck overhead powerlines

In one incident, an overhead cable brought down by workers from civil engineering company Kier hit a lorry.

13 January 2023

A firm has been fined more than £4 million after workers twice struck overhead powerlines, with dramatic footage showing the moment a cable nearly hit someone when it fell on a motorway.

In one incident, an overhead cable brought down by workers from civil engineering company Kier hit a lorry.

Kier put workers and drivers in “significant danger” through its “failure to plan the work properly and provide an adequate risk assessment”, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found.

It is the second time an HSE prosecution has resulted in a £4m fine where no-one was injured.

During the first incident, on March 28 2018, three Kier workers accidentally struck and severed an 11kV overhead powerline that landed on the M6 and in a nearby field.

Footage showed a worker running and narrowly avoiding being hit, just after 2am.

Kier failed to immediately tell Scottish Power, meaning the cable was re-energised a number of times while it was lying on the motorway and vehicles were passing.

During the second incident, on January 21 2019, a Kier tractor struck an overhead cable which led to an unmarked 11kV powerline being hit and snapped by an oncoming lorry.

Both incidents took place during overnight roadworks between junctions 16 and 18 on the M6 near Sandbach in Cheshire.

HSE found inadequate planning from Kier meant the vehicle used in the first incident was unsuitable, despite other more suitable vehicles being available.

There was also no task-specific risk assessment available for the workers.

In the second incident, the workers were unaware of the overhead hazards.

The company was fined £4.2 million and ordered to pay costs of £80,759 at Manchester Crown Court on Thursday.

HSE inspector Susan Ritchie said: “This is a significant fine reflecting the seriousness of the failures here.

“The company’s failure to plan the work properly and provide an adequate risk assessment put its workers and those using the motorway in significant danger.”

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