South Lanarkshire Council has been fined after two workers suffered flash burns when they struck an electrical cable while digging a ditch.
Anthony Zambonini, 59, suffered burns to his arms and face but was spared even more serious injury by his insulated gloves.
Fellow worker David Leven, 33, was blown off his feet and had an eye burned when the strike happened at a site in East Kilbride four years ago.
The two men were digging the ditch prior to laying a drainpipe when Zambonini thought he had struck a rock. He picked up a steel bar to try and break up the ground unaware he was hitting an 11,000 volt live electrical cable.
In doing so, the cable would have been earthed, reducing this to 6,350 volts.
When it fractured, he was hit by an electric shock, receiving flash burns.
Zambonini needed regular treatment in a specialist burns unit for several weeks and was off work for four months.
His colleague also sustained a flash burn to his left eye and has since made a full recovery.
The worker’s employer, South Lanarkshire Council, were prosecuted at Hamilton Sheriff Court today.
HSE investigators 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 court heard that the Council failed to follow its own protocols by not obtaining service plans before the work started.
The Council had a safe system of work document but its main weakness was a lack of awareness of what services existed in the trench. Had drawings been obtained, they would have shown three buried cables crossing the route of the trench, two of which were high voltage.
South Lanarkshire Council pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £35,000.
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.”
Lighthouse Comments: Underground cables are a serious concern as over the years many cables were laid without monitoring its position or without laying warning layers. As a result cables can be found on the strangest places and in the strangest configuration. Underground cables are often found by mistake and proper control measures need to be in place to prevent occurrences of this nature.