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Sellafield Ltd fined £320,000 after worker burned in “entirely avoidable” incident

Sellafield site

Sellafield Ltd has been fined £320,000 for flouting health and safety law after a man suffered burns while working on high voltage equipment.

The company was prosecuted following what an inspector called an “entirely avoidable” incident on April 24 this year – amid the first national coronavirus lockdown – at the site near Seascale in West Cumbria.

It resulted in a male worker sustaining 15-20 per cent burns while undertaking electrical work on the high voltage equipment at an electrical substation. There was no nuclear material present nor any radiological risk to workers or the public, it was confirmed.

In addition to the large fine, the company was also ordered to pay £12,079.07 costs after it admitted a charge brought under Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (1974).

District Judge John Temperley handed down the sentence during a hearing earlier today at North and West Cumbria Magistrates’ Court in Carlisle. 

The prosecution was the result of a probe into the incident by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) – the UK’s independent nuclear safety regulator.

Dr Mina Golshan, ONR deputy chief inspector, said after the court hearing: “I welcome today’s guilty plea which recognises the failings by Sellafield Ltd on this occasion that led to an employee sustaining serious injuries.

“This was an entirely avoidable event that occurred due to inadequate training and a lack of supervision.

“As an independent regulator, we will not hesitate to take enforcement action if we consider it is necessary to do so.

“While we are satisfied that Sellafield Ltd is meeting the standards of safety we expect with regards to nuclear safety, we want to see these same standards in place with regards to electrical safety – where further sustained improvements are required. 

“My team of inspectors will have close oversight of Sellafield’s response to this incident to ensure the root causes are addressed.”