Major Electric Shock Leads to Compensation Payout

A former BT employee who suffered a major electric shock from overhead powerlines has today won a significant compensation payout.

Barrister Harry Steinberg QC explained to London’s High Court the circumstances around the event, where Ian Andrew Milroy was working in a cherry picker in the Sussex village of Catsfield, in August of 2009.

Milroy, aged 57 from Biggin Hill, Kent, experienced a death-defying combination of injuries, with a cardiac arrest and brain damage on top of the electrical burns.

It was described by Steinberg as a “very high-voltage electrocution” and while the victim is unable to recall any memory from the accident, there has been recurring bouts of anxiety and depression as a result.

The injured employee was called to help a colleague who was checking a fault on a carrier pole on August 26th 2009. Mr Milroy – who had served BT for more than 20 years – and his co-worker were elevated in the transit van-mounted cherry picker. The near-death experience unfolded when a woman riding a horse politely asked the BT operatives to move the vehicle in order for her to continue her journey along Powdermill Lane.

Milroy proceeded to move the van to adhere to the request, but in doing so “came into contact with the current running through the high-voltage power line”. At contact, his heart stopped, he fell into a seizure and was dreadfully burned on the back of his head and right arm. The court also heard how the force of the incident caused fractures to his back and the traumatic brain injury.

Mr Milroy’s lawyers filed a claim against British Telecommunications PLC on his behalf, with the company immediately denying any responsibility. Despite BT blaming Mr Milroy for the accident, the judge ruled that he was given “insufficient training” to ensure he knew about a “very significant change” to BT’s safety at work practices.  Mr Justice William Davis ruled: “I conclude the training given to Mr Milroy was not adequate. Mr Milroy was known as a good and careful mobile elevated platform operator.”

The telecom giant were subsequently found to be two-thirds responsible for the incident.

The final settlement figure for Mr Milroy’s claim, believed to be in the region of six figures, was approved today by Judge David Pittaway QC, but the exact amount was kept confidential.

Judge Pittaway, after the describing the case as a particularly difficult one, went on to say “the amount of damages which have been agreed is not going to turn the clock back. However, it will at least ensure both Mr Milroy and his wife have a good quality of life going forward.”

Earlier in the hearing, BT legal representative William Norris QC addressed the court and stated “We would simply wish Mr Milroy and his family well.”

Electrocution from overhead power cables is an everyday risk for employees working at height. Thorough and compliant risk assessments should be carried out and documented before work similar to Mr Milroy’s takes place.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 (HASWA 1974), it is the employer’s duty and responsibility to ensure its employees have been adequately trained to do their job.  Vitally, as demonstrated in the case of Mr Milroy, that includes ensuring that they are aware of any changes to health and safety procedures and how to minimise the hazards involved with the job.

If you have suffered an electrocution at work and experienced minor or serious injuries, Mackrell and Thomas could help you to claim the compensation that you deserve. Our team of expert personal injury advisors are here to offer confidential, no-obligation advice. Visit our accident at work page to learn more information.