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MULTIPLE FAILINGS ENDED IN 11,000 VOLT CABLE STRIKE

Council prosecuted after two workman suffer flash burns digging trench   

South Lanarkshire Council has been fined after two workers suffered flash burns when they struck an electrical cable whilst excavating a ditch.

Anthony Zambonini, 59, suffered flash burns to his arms and face, and David Leven, 33, was blown off his feet and had an eye burned in the incident at a site in East Kilbride on 15 July 2009.

The men were excavating to lay a drainage pipe when Mr Zambonini thought he had struck some rock. He used a steel bar to break up the ground and struck the 11,000 volt live electrical cable.

He received flash burns to his arms and face and was only saved from more serious injury by his insulated gloves. He received treatment in a specialist burns unit for several weeks and was off work for four months.

Hamilton Sheriff Court heard (28 August) that HSE found the incident was the result of a combination of inadequate risk assessment, lack of a safe system of work, and failure to provide adequate information, instruction, supervision and training.

The Council failed to follow its own protocols by not obtaining service plans before the work started. A safe system of work document was in place but its main weakness was a lack of awareness of what services existed in the trench.

If drawings had been obtained they would have shown three buried cables crossing the route of the trench, two of which were high voltage.

Failure to implement own system of work

South Lanarkshire Council of Almada Street, Hamilton, was fined £35,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Mark Carroll, said:

“South Lanarkshire Council understood the risks of striking underground services during excavation works and yet still failed to implement its own recommended system of work for identifying and avoiding buried services.

When combined with insufficient training for employees involved in excavation works, this resulted in two of its employees suffering electrical burns.

South Lanarkshire Council fell well below accepted safety standards. Had they taken the time to properly plan and assess the risks of this work these men would not have been put at risk of injury and even death.”

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