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The Health and Safety Executive yesterday urged those involved with heavy electrical equipment to consider carefully the risks from overturning, following a verdict of accidental death at an inquest at St Pancreas Coroners' Court into the death of an electrical contractor. Cormac Nordon, of Maidenhead, Berkshire, died in August 2001 when a top-heavy panel fell on him while he was installing it in a new building in Canary Wharf. Anord Control Systems, of which Nordon was a director, had been contracted to install transformers and a number of large heavy electrical panels in two switchrooms in the basement of the newly constructed building. Nordon, assisted by his commissioning engineer, successfully placed a number of the panels in their final positions from nearby locations where they had been left by a specialist plant moving company. Working together they had to remove two timber bearers from each panel. They removed these one at a time working as a pair using hand levers to raise one end of each panel by a few inches. The accident occurred after they had raised one of the panels and removed the first bearer. Before they could lower it to the floor, and without any warning, the panel fell over backwards onto Nordon. He died from severe head injuries. The inquest highlighted the dangers of handling heavy items – especially where there is a high centre of gravity. Andrew Beal, the HSE's inspector who investigated the accident with officers from the Met Police, advised contractors to reduce risk of injury by taking preventative measures including:

  • specifying equipment in which heavy internal components such as bus bars have been installed at low level and which incorporate suitable jacking points, bottom-located lift points or top-fixed lifting eyes/lugs;

  • where there is a high centre of gravity, the attachment by manufacturers/suppliers of warning signs and the provision of information on suitable methods of handling;

  • avoidance of manual handling techniques where, if there is sudden movement through slippage or loss of control, the equipment can rapidly move to an unstable position;

  • and use of suitable mechanical handling aids e.g. scoots and toe jacks to minimise the risk of overturn.

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