A verdict is expected today in the case of a construction company charged with breaking the health and safety law after two workers received electric shocks from a cable discovered under a traffic cone.
On the fourth day of the Royal Court trial of Rok Homes yesterday, the court heard contrasting arguments about who was responsible for the incident at a private residence at West Hill in St. Helier.
Closing the case for the prosecution, Crown Advocate Simon Thomas argued that Rok had failed to comply with all three parts of section 21 of the Jersey Health and Safety at Work law.
"The company's actions were utterly inadequate when set alongside the risk – it was a matter of good fortune that the consequences were not more serious," he said.
Advocate Thomas said that when the cable was first discovered in late November 2020, and identified again on 5 December, Rok employees had proceeded on the 'inappropriate assumption' that the cable was almost certainly dead, covering the frayed end with a traffic cone and failing to advise Jersey Electricity.
The court heard that two employees from Geomarine, a contractor working on behalf of Jersey Electricity, had subsequently received electric shocks while working on the site in early February 2021, although neither man was seriously hurt. Evidence from a defence witness about the possible cause of the electric shock was questionable, Advocate Thomas added.
"We heard that the frayed end of the cable was dead, but that the current may have been carried by a gas pipe that became live, but you may think that is a convoluted and speculative suggestion," he said.
Advocate Christina Hall, defending, described Rok Homes as "a large and well-respected company that prides itself on its health and safety procedures".
She said: "The defence is straightforward – that the company did everything it reasonably could to identify, and assess the risk of, existing services on the site."
Earlier in the trial, Rok Homes Project Director Marc Godel said Jersey Electricity had been told about the cable on several occasions prior to the day the workmen suffered shocks, and that the utility company had made "a big contribution" to the risk.
In a statement presented to the court based on interviews with health and safety officers, Mr Godel claimed that Jersey Electricity had shown "very little diligence, very little care".
Rok Homes entered a not-guilty plea at the start of the trial, which was heard by Commissioner Sir Michael Birt, with Jurats Pamela Pitman and Gareth Hughes sitting. The trial was adjourned yesterday, with a verdict expected to be delivered today.
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