A site engineer about to valet a forecourt in Staffordshire had a narrow escape after he discovered high-voltage overhead cables less than three feet from a price sign.

Gary Green, who works for Xmo Strata, spotted the hazard during a last-minute risk assessment, aborted the work and posted warnings on the company’s XmoMan management information system.

Records show the sign was originally installed by Xmo Strata, which requested the cables be sheathed by the electricity company, but the sheathing was subsequently removed.

"A jet-wash stream hitting high voltage cables provides a track right back to the earth in this case, it would have gone directly through the jet wash wand Gary was holding," said Xmo Strata managing director Steve Martin.

"It’s a particular hazard for cherry pickers, and because of the risk of arcing, it isn’t even necessary to touch the cables mere proximity could be enough. I hope it serves as a reminder to everyone about hazards of this type."