The claimant was employed by Gateshead Council as a lighting operative and was required to dig a hole for a new light column.

The claimant had scanned the area with a CAT scanner and located cables beneath the surface of the ground. The claimant dug down carefully and located a cable 18 inches below the ground. The claimant avoided this cable and continued to dig. He did not use the CAT scanner again as the device could not distinguish between the cable already located and further cables beneath the surface of the ground.

The claimant had not been provided with any plans of the area to demonstrate the presence of electricity cables. He then dug into a 1100 volt power cable and sustained singing to the hair and eyebrows and injury to pre-existing neck and back problem.

Liability was denied and proceedings were issued against Gateshead Council and Northern Electric Distribution Limited. Against the first defendant, the claimant relied upon a breach of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.

Negligence was alleged against the second defendant at common law for failing to ensure that warning tiles or tape was present above the cable to alert of the danger.

The claimant succeeded in establishing primary liability against the first and the second defendant with no element of contributory negligence. Damages were awarded to the claimant in the sum of £2,250.

John Brian Morrow -v- Northern Electric Distribution Limited, 19 December 2006, Newcastle upon Tyne CC