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Topic Title: EMMA SHAW CASE
Topic Summary: Result of the Court case
Created On: 31 March 2014 04:35 PM
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 31 March 2014 04:35 PM
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John Peckham

Posts: 9097
Joined: 23 April 2005

The Mr Hoult the NICEIC QS was found guilty last week of the charges relating to Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Mr Tomkins the electricians mate was found not guilty today of charges under section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act by a majority verdict of the jury.

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 31 March 2014 05:19 PM
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John Peckham

Posts: 9097
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The case relates to the Death of 22 year old Emma Shaw who was the occupant with her 18 child month of a rented 1st floor flat in West Bromwich in December 2007.

The flat was one of new 42 flats that had electrical installation carried out by Anchor Building and Electrical services an NICEIC Approved Contractor in 2006.

The internal walls were constructed of "C" section metal studwork covered with plasterboard. A hall cupboard contained a pressurised water boiler above which was mounted a consumer unit supplied from a distribution circuit from a switch fuse in a an riser cupboard external to the flat. The means of earthing was TN-C-S. None of the circuits in the consumer unit were RCD protected. Circuit No. 3 supplied one of the immersion heaters in the boiler.

The electrical installation had been 1st fixed the plaster board fitted to the metal studding before the installation was 2nd fixed. Circuit 3 supplied a 20A double pole switch at high level which supplied a cable outlet at low level, this in turn supplied the water heater in flex.

The cable to the flex outlet was longer than it should be and when the plasterboard was installed the cable was trapped between the plasterboard and the stud-work. In addition a plasterboard screw passed through the cable clipping the Line and CPC conductors and in to the studwork.

The installation had been energised without any testing and the fault current had blown away part of the screw and CPC. This was verified by forensic examination at the HSE laboratories. This left a high resistance fault from the line conductor to the metal studwork.

18 months later the stat. on the water heater failed and the cylinder over pressurised and the safety valve operated and the safety valve operated and discharged in to a tun dish. The plastic waste pipe from the tun dish had parted because it was not glued and the water spilled on to the floor soaking the carpet. The water soaked under the foot of the wall and in to contact with the live studwork.

Miss Shaw was mopping up the water and had texted her partner to come home telling him the hall was flooded and the "electricity was sparking". he partner tetxed back to say to turn off the water stop cock sited in the same cupboard as the boiler.

Later she was found kneeling in the cupboard slumped forward and apparently lifeless. Subsequent examination and a Post Mortum determined that she was kneeling in the charged water and received a fatal shock when she touched the earthed stop valve.

West Midlands Police, the ambulance service and the fire service attended the scene. The police commenced an investigation for a suspicious death.

The police later arrested both the QS Hoult and Tomkins the electricians mate and they were interviewed under caution. Tomkins had signed an Electrical Installation Certificate as the Inspector. He admitted he was not qualified or competent to do so. He said he had been taken to the flat by the electrical site foreman and told to do ring continuity and loop impedance testing.He said when he got to the flat the installation was already energised. He did no other inspection and testing. He said that in the site hut they had sat around the table with the site foreman and was told the other tests had been done and he was told what to write on the test certificate.

This EIC was submitted to Anchors offices where a type written certificate was produced. The type written version had differences to Tomkins hand written version. The typed version had "P/P C Tomkins" in the single signature box for design. construction and inspection. Tomkins said in court he had not seen the typed form and he would not have consented to his signature being used. Mr Hoult the QS said that he just checked the figures on the form and signed it as the QS. he did not go to site and was not involved in the testing and inspection. Mr Hoult had known Tomkins for many years and it was alleged he knew about Tomkins status as a mate and his lack of qualifications.

Those are the brief facts that will no doubt generate a lot of questions. I have some of the detail from the expert witnesses, the police and others. The HSE produced an excellent DVD of a computer generated simulation of the accident shown in court to explain the circumstances and the consequences of the events in non-technical language.

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 31 March 2014 05:23 PM
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OMS

Posts: 22864
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Interesting - particularly in light of the recent Parliamentary committee dealing with Part P and some of the submissions and conclusions drawn from it.

Do we not now have a precendent case that suggets the installer does still indeed have the protection of the vicarious liability afforded by the employer ?

Or conversely, that employers need to employ competent people - which is always the case.

Regards

OMS

-------------------------
Let the wind blow you, across a big floor.
 31 March 2014 05:26 PM
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AJJewsbury

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Thanks John. Very interesting.

- Andy.
 31 March 2014 05:30 PM
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John Peckham

Posts: 9097
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Mr Hoult was charged with Failing to supervise, failing to take proper care in the reasonable recording of the test results contrary to Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

I feel sure that I am not the only person who is not surprised that the the results for the inspecting and testing were completed as a group exercise sitting around the mess table in the site hut?

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 31 March 2014 05:31 PM
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impvan

Posts: 922
Joined: 07 September 2005

And in addition to the electrical failings, what about the pipework from the safety valve?

I understood this was supposed to only ever be in metal?
 31 March 2014 05:46 PM
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rocknroll

Posts: 9677
Joined: 03 October 2005

Section 7

General duties of employees at work.

It shall be the duty of every employee while at work -

(a) to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work;

and .

(b) as regards any duty or requirement imposed on his employer or any other person by or under any of the relevant statutory provisions, to co-operate with him so far as is necessary to enable that duty or requirement to be performed or complied with.

Sections 7 to 9 HSWA 1974.

These offences are punishable on conviction in the magistrates court by a fine up to £5,000, and on conviction in the Crown Court by an unlimited fine.

However, where a person is convicted in the Crown Court of any of the above offences that consists of a breach of licence requirements or certain provisions relating to explosives, the maximum penalty is two years' imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

Whilst the costs/fines look severe on paper you have to remember that where individuals are concerned they are subject to means testing which means what they only have to pay a contribution of up to 7% the rest comes from a social fund, the purpose of this is so people do not suffer economic or social hardship, like losing their jobs and material assets such as housing etc, just basic human rights.

regards

-------------------------
"Take nothing but a picture,
leave nothing but footprints!"
-------------------------
"Oh! The drama of it all."
-------------------------
"You can throw all the philosophy you like at the problem, but at the end of the day it's just basic electrical theory!"
-------------------------

Edited: 31 March 2014 at 06:00 PM by rocknroll
 31 March 2014 06:02 PM
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perspicacious

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 31 March 2014 06:03 PM
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jcm256

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It is easy to overlook some trivial defect when compiling a report but ticking a box that a RCD is present when none fitted is deplorable.

http://www.expressandstar.com/...electrocution-at-flat/
 31 March 2014 08:21 PM
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aligarjon

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Originally posted by: jcm256

It is easy to overlook some trivial defect when compiling a report but ticking a box that a RCD is present when none fitted is deplorable.



http://www.expressandstar.com/...electrocution-at-flat/




why was the lack of rcd a defect. in 2007 i doubt anyone fitted rcd's to imersion circuits.

Gary

-------------------------
Specialised Subject. The Bleedin Obvious. John Cleese
 31 March 2014 08:53 PM
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jcm256

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Yes you could be right, but the fact ticking a box that there was one when in fact there was not, was it a guess without checking we don't know.
 31 March 2014 10:26 PM
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aligarjon

Posts: 4053
Joined: 09 September 2005

yes it sounds like he didn't even go into the property. i suspect it goes on all the time.

Gary

-------------------------
Specialised Subject. The Bleedin Obvious. John Cleese
 31 March 2014 11:54 PM
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sparkingchip

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 01 April 2014 12:40 AM
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antric2

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With ref; to the RCD box being ticked for a non present RCD,
I upgraded a consumer unit some 3 or 4 years ago at a house just after a bathroom refit that had had a small con unit fitted with no RCD protection.
The cert had ticked the RCD present box but upon my testing was getting >310ms.
Where was the RCD in question I thought that was not operating correctly\gone faulty.
Phoned the electrician (Niceic Approved) who issued cert to ask where RCD was."It is an RCBO "he said...."No it isnt" I replied at which he replied that he had told his collegue to order and fit an RCBO .
When I asked him to explain how and why the x1 and x5 test had been recorded at 18ms he replied that all Hagar RCBO,s were 18ms trip time and that was that.....I was quite surprised at his audacity and flippant manner.

The customer was fuming,complained to the bathroom company....no joy....customer complained to NICEIC and because I had done the consumer unit and integrated the bathroom circuit onto my new RCD board would not take action.

This was one the installer had been caught out with but how many more guestimated certs of his are out there!!! NIC were not interested about that.
Regards
Antric
 01 April 2014 12:41 AM
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mapj1

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Joined: 22 July 2004

It is of course desperately sad for all involved, but also mercifully rare that a fault like this actually leads to fatality, as a number of things have to be badly wrong together. I this case the screw, the water and the fact she was in the water when, we must presume, she reached for the earthed plumbing.
We will not know how many wires out there are spiked by screws and nails, but luckily don't lead to ill effect, though we may guess its a good few from the number of times a wire is found that was clearly damaged ages before discovery - well I've found a few, and I've even drilled a cable I put in myself, and felt suitably foolish afterwards.
I also doubt that all cases will be found by the current testing methods, though actually doing them can only be a help. Certainly the presence of just a live screw alone, not touching E is unlikely to be spotted if the wall is dry, maybe a large area of foil backed board could be detected by measuring L-E versus N-E capacitance imbalance, but I can't see that getting added onto the list of things to be tested any time soon.
An RCD would have helped, in this case at least, so we can expect these sort of headlines to gradually become less common if we continue to encourage RCD use.
How would we be reacting if all the testing and paper work had been completed correctly, and the accident had still occurred I wonder ? (assuming the insulation had been L+N to E >100meg = "test pass" on switch-on day?)

regards

Mike

-------------------------
regards Mike
 01 April 2014 12:46 AM
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antric2

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Another thing; I think the safety council should run an awareness campaign to highlight the need to regularly test RCD function with the test button and also to highlight the safety advantage of having RCDs installed in their home.
Regards
Antric
PS; I am not an RCD salesman...honest
 01 April 2014 08:07 AM
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aligarjon

Posts: 4053
Joined: 09 September 2005

i suspect that if the screw had just nicked the live and into the frame the result would have been the same with the installation passing all tests and livened up. or could actually happen on an existing installation that is already powered up if screws are fitted and the cables aren't back properly, which lets face it is possible with the way they stuff insulation into the voids these days.

Gary

-------------------------
Specialised Subject. The Bleedin Obvious. John Cleese
 01 April 2014 09:15 AM
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AJJewsbury

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The installation had been energised without any testing and the fault current had blown away part of the screw and CPC. This was verified by forensic examination at the HSE laboratories. This left a high resistance fault from the line conductor to the metal studwork.

Interesting that it "blow away" (vaporized?) part of the c.p.c. before the MCB opened - given the requirements of section 543 would that have been expected? If the c.p.c. had remained intact in this case, it would seem that it would have been impossible to reset the MCB and the fault would have been apparent.

Perhaps we should question the idea of faults of negligible impedance?

- Andy.
 01 April 2014 09:23 AM
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Zoro

Posts: 300
Joined: 31 July 2011

Originally posted by: antric2

With ref; to the RCD box being ticked for a non present RCD,

I upgraded a consumer unit some 3 or 4 years ago at a house just after a bathroom refit that had had a small con unit fitted with no RCD protection.

The cert had ticked the RCD present box but upon my testing was getting >310ms.

Where was the RCD in question I thought that was not operating correctly\gone faulty.

Phoned the electrician (Niceic Approved) who issued cert to ask where RCD was."It is an RCBO "he said...."No it isnt" I replied at which he replied that he had told his collegue to order and fit an RCBO .

When I asked him to explain how and why the x1 and x5 test had been recorded at 18ms he replied that all Hagar RCBO,s were 18ms trip time and that was that.....I was quite surprised at his audacity and flippant manner.

The customer was fuming,complained to the bathroom company....no joy....customer complained to NICEIC and because I had done the consumer unit and integrated the bathroom circuit onto my new RCD board would not take action.


This was one the installer had been caught out with but how many more guestimated certs of his are out there!!! NIC were not interested about that.

Regards
Antric


The NICEIC and their owners the Electrical Safety Council are never interested in safety issues, when another of their members are found doing non compliant and dangerous work.

The list of cases where the NICEIC/ESC turn there backs and walk away grows day by day, so much for the propaganda about being a safety organisation.

Even in this case with the sad death of Emma Shaw (22), the NICEIC/ESC walked away, I don't know how they can pretend any more to have any interest in the safety of the public.

With the slow collapse of the Part P Schemes structure, you can see why it is happening, when it is based on the standards and policies of the NICEIC.

With the Trade having given the Schemes aver £160 million over the last nine years we are no better off, it should be scrapped.

.
 01 April 2014 10:57 AM
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davezawadi

Posts: 4259
Joined: 26 June 2002

This case has another interesting point which is worth considerng.
The use of metal studwork obviously contributed to the outcome, so should we consider if this is actually an exposed conductive part, and therefore should have been bonded to earth. It is very difficult to tell if cables are trapped when boarding this studwork as it simply distorts allowing the boards to fit flat, and the long and pointed screws are very capable of penetrating almost anything.

-------------------------
David
BSc CEng MIET
IET » Wiring and the regulations » EMMA SHAW CASE

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