Electrocuted scaffolder loses hands and feet; prison sentence for boss

"I can’t quite put into words how it feels to wake up with no hands," said James Mines, a UK scaffolder who had been electrocuted by overhead power lines in a horrific site accident. "I wouldn’t be able to hold my babies’ hands again."

Mines, whose hands and feet had to be amputated after the accident last December, made the statement after his boss and the boss’s company pleaded guilty last week to breaching UK health and safety regulations.

An Ambulance of England’s South Western Ambulance Service (Graham Richardson/Wikimedia Commons)

The director responsible for the unsafe work procedure that put the scaffolding too close to the power lines received a six-months suspended prison sentence, while his company was fined £80,000.

The Magistrates’ Court in Swindon, England heard how Mines was erecting scaffolding on 19 December 2016 when the structure came into contact with 33KV overhead power lines.

The father of five received an electric shock which led to the amputation of his left arm above the elbow, right arm below the elbow and both of his feet. The 32-year-old also suffered severe burns to his legs and back, damage to his vocal chords, and was in an induced coma for six weeks.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the scaffolding should not have been built to that height so close to overhead power lines. The company and its director failed to ensure a safe system of work was in place for erecting a scaffold under overhead power lines.

Boundary Scaffolding Limited of Kendrick Industrial Estate Swindon pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £80,000.

Company director Jonathon Lee Griffiths-Clack pleaded guilty to breaches of the Act and was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months. He has been ordered to repay costs of £1,545.30.

In a statement Jamie Mines said: "I can’t quite put into words how it feels to wake up with no hands. I had five-month-old twin girls at the time of the accident, all I could think of when I woke up was the things I wouldn’t be able to do, for example I wouldn’t be able to hold my babies’ hands again, I wouldn’t be able to draw, play catch or teach my girls any of the things that I had learned with my hands.

"There’s so many things I can’t do it’s hard to imagine, but to never feel anything with my hands again is what I struggle with the most.

"Sitting here now in my wheelchair nine months after the accident and I still don’t walk, for a man who was very active before the accident it has been extremely difficult! I was a keen a sportsman as well as someone who enjoyed his job and was really hands on with my babies. How my life has changed is almost indescribable."

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Ian Whittles said: "This incident could have been prevented had the company and its director properly planned a safe system of work and ensured the scaffolding was erected in line with HSE regulations. Due to their failings, a young father of five has been left with life-changing injuries and the lives of an entire family have been changed forever."

Photograph: An Ambulance of England’s South Western Ambulance Service (Graham Richardson/Wikimedia Commons)

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