Scottish workers electrocuted while digging ditch

Scottish workers electrocuted while digging ditch 25589

Two workers from Scotland were electrocuted by an underground cable after being told to dig a ditch by officials at South Lanarkshire Council.

David Leven and Anthony Zambonini were unearthing soil to try and lay a drainpipe, when the work accident took place.

Mr Zambonini was struggling to finish the task, after hitting what he thought was rock. But instead of reporting this to seniors, the 59-year-old used a metal bar to try and break up the surface under him.

However, the obstacle was not a stone deposit and was instead an electrical cable carrying 11,000 live volts - and the worker accidentally breached its casing, violently shocking the pair.

Mr Zambonini, from Hamilton, needed regular burns unit treatment for several weeks, causing him to take an extensive period off work - totalling around four months.

Thankfully, his colleague Mr Leven made a much quicker recovery after sustaining a relatively minor flash burn to his left eye.

After hearing about the incident, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an enquiry to try and establish whether Mr Zambonini or South Lanarkshire Council was at fault for the injuries sustained.

Inspectors concluded that the accident was caused by a combination of poor risk assessment, a lack of a safe system of work and a failure to train the pair properly or supervise them - meaning that the local authority was liable.

This led South Lanarkshire Council to be fined £35,000 after it pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at Hamilton Sheriff Court.

Commenting on the case after the verdict had been handed down, 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."

By Francesca Witney