TWO North-East firms have been fined after exposing workers to the dangers of electrocution.

Northern Construction Solutions (NCS), in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, and Hexham-based Egger (UK) Limited were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after a digger struck an underground cable.

Egger was fined £8,000, with NCS ordered to pay £4,000, with both companies pleading guilty to breaching construction regulations.

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Newcastle Magistrates' Court heard an incident took place in March last year during work for Egger's subsidiary company, Campact, on Egger's Hexham site, with NCS sub-contracted to carry out groundwork and civil engineering work.

The court was told two workers were given the job of digging an area in front on a new electric substation when an excavator bucket struck a 20 kilovolt underground cable.

Both workers avoided injury.

However, inspectors found Egger had failed to update a diagram detailing the location of underground cabling, meaning NCS did not have up-to-date information.

The court heard although it was the duty of Egger to provide NCS with appropriate information, the contractors had a duty to provide workers under their control with the information they needed.

Instead, they accepted the out-of-date diagram, even though they knew there had been changes made in the area to be excavated.

Andrea Robbins, HSE inspector, said: “Nobody was hurt but the potential for serious, even fatal, injuries was foreseeable.

“Had both Egger and NCS adequately planned and managed the risks before the excavation work started, this incident would've most probably been avoided.

“Appropriate planning and control measures should always be in place.

“A failure to do so could result in fatal consequences.”

Dave Gardner, a director at NCS, added: “This is the first time the company has been prosecuted by the HSE and we deeply regret the incident at the Egger project.

“We have now put processes in place in the company to prevent anything like this happening again.”