The St Albans Magistrates Court was told 29-year-old Ben Richardson, from the Dacorum Borough Council’s housing repair team, had clamped an electric cable thinking it was a domestic water main when he was called to a home in Hemel Hempstead in November 2006.
The 1960s home had a mains water pipe and electricity supply cable which were both of similar size and colour, making them hard to distinguish. The cable ruptured sending a massive current through his body.
A HSE investigation identified that the system of work used to detect the water supply did not involve the use a cable avoidance tool to safely detect electric current and avoid the electricity supply to the house.
Mr Richardson's workmate said they had been shown how to use a CAT during “20 or 30 minutes” as part of a training course in 1998, but they had never achieved competence in its use.
Dacorum Borough Council was today fined £37,500 with £17,500 costs over the incident.
HSE Inspector Trevor Morrow, said: "The CAT is a sophisticated piece of equipment. You won't learn to use it competently during 20 to 30 minutes on a training course, but you will with regular use and experience.
"If it had been available as part of their normal excavation work and they had been competent in its use, then the CAT would have prevented this fatality.”