Openreach fined £1.3m following death of engineer

Alun Owen

Alun Owen, 32 and from Bethesda, died after he slipped and fell into the River Aber in Abergwyngregyn and was swept away on 6th October 2020.

It transpired that no training or instruction specific to safe working by water had ever been given.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and North Wales Police found that several Openreach engineers had been attempting to repair telephone lines, which ran across the river, over a period of two months. They had been working both near and in the river.  At the time of the incident, there had been flooding in the area which meant that the river was higher and faster flowing than usual.

Alun Owen entered the water and made his way to an island in the middle of the to try and throw a new cable across to the other side by taping it to a hammer and then throwing the hammer. While attempting to cross the remaining section of the river, he slipped in a deeper part and the force of the river swept him away.

Openreach Limited is the division of BT Group that maintain telephone cables, ducts, cabinets and exchanges.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at work etc. Act 1974. It was fined £1.34m and ordered to pay costs of £15,858.35 at Llandudno Magistrates’ Court on 5th June 2024.

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