Electrocuted toddler would be alive if worker had tidied up

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THE death of a toddler who was electrocuted in his playroom could have been avoided by keeping an exposed wire out of his reach, an inquiry has ruled.

Liam Boyle was killed after picking up a plug and cable with exposed wires that had been left behind by workmen at his home in Hillington on 28 February, 2009.

The 21-month-old is believed to have taken the cable into his toy room and plugged it into a socket, before touching the exposed wires.

His mother Claire Hughes, who had gone to clean up after the workmen, found him lying on the floor a short time later.

A fatal accident inquiry was held at Glasgow Sheriff Court and in a written judgment on the case published yesterday Sheriff Ian Miller said that "reasonable precautions" could have been taken to avoid the child's death.

He said: "Liam would not have died when, where and how he did if he had been denied access to the cable and plug.

"Undoubtedly that could have been achieved by keeping the cable and plug in a place where Liam could not get at them while the work was being done, and also by removing them as part of the necessary task of clearing up whatever tools and equipment had been brought to the house."

The inquiry heard that workman Daniel Rough and his assistant were fitting a new oven in the house at Dryburn Avenue when they removed a cable and plug and fitted a longer one that would reach a socket.

After the workmen left, Ms Hughes, 32, began cleaning up the kitchen and could hear Liam playing in his toy room. A short time later another child told her Liam had fallen asleep and she went to check on him.

In a statement read out on her behalf, she said: "He was lying just the way he normally sleeps, on his front with his bottom in the air. At first I thought he was sleeping."

She added: "I took a step forward, it was at this point I saw a spot of blood on the floor at Liam's mouth."

An ambulance was called and Liam was rushed to Glasgow's Southern General Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.

Mr Rough also gave evidence and accepted that he had removed the cable and left it lying on the floor beside the old oven.

The 68-year-old - who has no formal qualifications in electrical work - said he later "assumed" his assistant had taken it away with the old oven.

But Mr Miller yesterday said Mr Rough should have taken extra care due to Liam's age.

Jo Bullock, spokeswoman for accident charity RoSPA, said builders and handymen had a duty of care to ensure they tidied up properly.She said: "Whether they're large-scale construction firms or small-scale operations fitting a kitchen, they do have health and safety obligations."

A spokeswoman for the Crown Office said the fiscal service's health and safety division had received a report on the incident. "After full and careful consideration of all the facts and circumstances, the division made recommendations to Crown counsel and the decision was taken to hold a fatal accident inquiry. This has now concluded and there are to be no further proceedings."