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Openreach fined £1.34 million after death of an engineer

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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced that they have fined Openreach £1.34 million after investigating the death of an engineer.

The engineer, Alun Owen from Bethesda, tragically died while trying to repair a telephone line that ran across the River Aber in Abergwyngregyn.

A number of engineers had been trying to repair the telephone lines in the area over a 2-month period, working both near and in the river. At the time of the incident, because of flooding, the river was much higher and flowing faster than usual.

Mr Owen had gone into the river and made his way to an island in the middle of the river to try and throw a new telephone cable across to the other side by taping it to a hammer and then throwing the hammer. While he attempted to cross the remaining part of the river, he slipped in a deeper part and the force of the river swept him away.

North Wales Police were involved with HSE in the investigation, which found that there was no safe system of work in place. Mr Owen and others working there had not received any training, information or instruction on safe working on or near water.

Openreach pleaded guilty and have been fined and ordered to pay costs.

HSE have stated that Mr Owen should not have been put in an unsafe working situation. Businesses that have staff who may work on or near water are reminded of the need to have an effective safe system of work in place.

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