Kent Scaffolding Company Fined After Scaffolder’s Electric Shock


Canterbury City Scaffolding Ltd, a Kent-based scaffolding company, has been slapped with a substantial fine, and its director has received a suspended prison sentence following a tragic incident where a scaffolder suffered a severe 11,000-volt electric shock. 

The incident has raised concerns about the safety of workers near high-voltage power lines and the importance of meticulous planning to prevent such accidents.

On November 29, 2021, Steven Gilmore, a 36-year-old scaffolder working for Canterbury City Scaffolding Ltd, was involved in erecting a temporary roof scaffold at an open-air drinks depot in Snow Hill, Crawley, West Sussex. 

The company had been contracted by Drinks Warehouse UK Ltd to build the structure to provide shelter during the winter months.

Tragedy struck when Gilmore inadvertently made contact with a live 11kV power line while lifting a six-meter scaffold tube. This contact resulted in an electric shock that caused him to fall over five meters to the ground, leading to a severe leg injury and life-changing electrical burns to both hands, which he will never fully recover from.

A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed alarming safety lapses by Canterbury City Scaffolding Ltd and its director. They had failed to conduct a proper risk assessment for the high-risk job of assembling the temporary roof scaffold near a high-voltage line. 

Additionally, despite being aware of the proximity of the temporary roof scaffold to the 11kV line, neither the scaffold contractor nor its director consulted UK Power Networks (Network Operator) to ascertain line voltage and safe clearance distances.

Moreover, while overseeing the scaffold assembly, the director permitted his team to use six-meter-long metal scaffold tubes at near-vertical angles within striking distance of the high-voltage line without taking any precautions to prevent injury.

HSE Inspector Susie Beckett said, “This scaffolder’s injuries were life-changing and could have been fatal. This incident could have been avoided if this high-risk scaffold job had been properly planned, including seeking free advice from the Network Operator on what precautions to take, and then implementing those well-established precautions to prevent accidental contact with the overhead line.”

In a court hearing at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on September 22, 2023, Canterbury City Scaffolding Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. 

Director Ian Pepper, aged 48, also pleaded guilty to an offence under Section 37(1) of the same Act. Sentencing for the case was adjourned until January 15, 2024.

The court subsequently imposed a £50,000 fine on Canterbury City Scaffolding Ltd. In the case of Ian Pepper, he was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison, although the sentence was suspended for 12 months. 

Pepper was further ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days as part of his punishment.