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Landlord fined £528,000 after fence mending work leads to burns

landlord fine portsmouth

A large landlord has been fined £528,000 after a maintenance crew member repairing a fence post inadvertently struck an underground cable, suffering facial burns.

MHS Homes is the largest independent private landlord in the UK managing some 9,500 properties. The fine follows an incident during which an employee and a colleague had been tasked to repair three fence posts in a tenant’s back garden in January 2023.

They had already repaired two of the posts and started on a third, when one struck an underground electrical cable as he tried to break through some concrete using a jack hammer.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports that MHS Homes failed to provide the employees with information on the location of - or the tools to safely excavate around - an electrical cable and gas pipe.

An HSE investigation found that MHS Homes often excavated the ground. However, it never provided any information to employees on the location of underground services and did not provide suitable equipment for their detection and safe excavation. It had previously identified the risk of underground services in a risk assessment in 2017.


On this occasion, the two workers were digging by an electrical cable and gas service which heightened the risk of a fire or explosion, putting employees and members of the public at risk of death, as well as the risk of destroying property.

Chatham-based MHS Homes admitted non-compliance with the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and was fined £528,000 with £4,122 costs.

HSE inspector Peter Bruce says although a worker suffered minor injuries, it could have been much worse and potentially fatal. He adds: “Those excavating the ground need to ensure that they obtain service plans prior to the work taking place. It is also vital that employees are provided with the correct tools and detection equipment to do their work safely.”


Landlord fines