Bristol plumber Danny Edwards died 'due to error by electrician'
A young plumber died because an electrician failed to wire up a washing machine socket correctly, it was claimed in court.
The earth and live cables into the socket were mixed up and when plumber Danny Edwards, 23, fitted the washing machine he was electrocuted.
"This was a very tragic accident at work and the loss of a young man with all the effects you can imagine on his family and his partner," prosecutor Rupert Lowe told Gloucester Crown Court. "It was an accident which did not need to happen."
Mr Edwards, of Fishponds, Bristol, who was on the verge of fatherhood at the time of the tragedy, was working for Bristol-based Birakos Enterprises when he was killed on March 19, 2008. The company, which has since gone into administration, denies two charges – failing to ensure Mr Edwards' safety at work, and failing to discharge its duties under the Control of Electricity Regulations. No one from Birakos Enterprises is attending the trial and neither the firm nor the administrators are legally represented. Mr Edwards' father Paul and his partner Cheralyn Williams are present for the hearing.
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Mr Lowe told the court that almost five years ago Mr Edwards was working for Birakos, which was converting a building in Percival Road, Clifton, into flats.
"He was installing a washing machine next to the sink in Flat 7. He had to adjust the legs of the machine to make it level. He had to climb, head-first, into the cupboard under the sink and reach around to adjust the legs.
"As he did so his head came into contact with the water pipe at the back of the cupboard and his hand came into contact with the casing of the washing machine.
"Immediately that happened he was electrocuted and he died where he was.
"The reason he was electrocuted was because the washing machine was plugged into a socket which had been wired so that the earth wire was into the live and the live was into the earth. As a result the metal casing of the washing machine was live.
"The wiring error in this case was catastrophic.
"It was a basic mistake. You would think any electrician's first lesson would be to get the wiring right – it is pretty obvious which is which because they are all colour coded."
He said was possible for anyone in any job to make a mistake when distracted, tired or 'just plain incompetent' but the company should have had a testing system in place to avoid just such a tragedy.
Mr Lowe said the basis of the prosecution was that the firm had breached health and safety rules in four ways, including the faulty wiring and the lack of a current breaker which would have cut off the electricity.
The trial continues.