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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Police called to site to stop dangerous digger driver

A digger driver has been sentenced after police were forced to stop him causing chaos on a Blackburn demolition site. Blackpool Magistrates’ Court heard how Peter Walling’s company had been contracted to demolish a former medical centre in Blackburn and clear the land ready for development. Between 15 November and 6 December 2018, four separate incidents occurred on site when an excavator operated by Walling caused damage to underground cables and a sub-station.

The damage caused loss of electricity supplies to the local area and repair costs to the electricity supplier of £49,000.

Walling also removed asbestos containing materials prior to a survey taking place, potentially exposing workers to the hazardous material.

An HSE investigation found that Walling did not ensure all services had been disconnected and ignored warnings from Electricity North West to stop work when low voltage cables were first dug up by his excavator.

He only stopped working in a dangerous area when the police attended the scene. Walling of Mellor, Blackburn pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was sentenced to 200 hours unpaid work and received a ten-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to pay costs of £7,000.

HSE inspector Christine McGlynn said after the hearing: “These incidents could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“Mr Walling recklessly failed to heed warnings and advice and put not only himself but also others on site at risk of electrocution and risk of exposure to asbestos containing materials. “Contractors should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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