Mitsubishi worker, 34, electrocuted to death by heat pump while working alone in Canary Wharf

Columbus House in Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf, where Sean O'Connor was electrocuted
Columbus House in Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf, where Sean O'Connor was electrocuted -Credit:Google

A Mitsubishi worker was electrocuted to death while working alone on a heat pump at an East London office block, a court heard. Sean O'Connor, 34, touched the flow switch terminal while he was working alone on the heating system at Columbus House in Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf, on November 24, 2021.

The medical cause of death was given as 'electrocution', and a jury inquest concluded Sean's death was an accident. The coroner, however, has highlighted concerns over possible future deaths, with heat pump technicians working alone, sometimes without a check during the day. Though it may not have saved Sean's life, such a check might prevent another tragic loss, the coroner found.

Senior Coroner for Inner North London Mary Hassell said she heard evidence Sean was regarded as a lone worker, but should have asked a colleague from Canary Wharf Management Limited (CWML) to come to check him during the day, in line with the risk assessment method statement (RAMS).

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The outside of St Pancras Coroner's Court
The coroner has written a prevention of future deaths report to help stop another tragedy -Credit:CARL DE SOUZA/AFP via Getty Images

Sean never never asked for a check, and although a CWML employee thought of doing one, they were too busy. Ms Hassell concluded: "Whilst such a check is likely to have taken place too late in the day to have changed the outcome for Mr O'Connor, that might be different for another lone worker."

She said several witnesses spoke about routine briefings for workers coming on site, and the CWML director gave evidence that he agreed it would be straightforward to include a brief discussion about any checks that were needed in the day. This discussion, Ms Hassell said, would act as a reminder if the technician forgets to ask for a check.

Canary Wharf Management Limited has until mid July to respond to Ms Hassell's report.

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