Farm worker suffered severe burns after horror accident

PUBLISHED: 15:29 24 November 2010

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A FARM worker spent nine weeks in hospital with severe burns after getting an electric shock while working for a potato grower in Littleport.

A FARM worker spent nine weeks in hospital with severe burns after getting an electric shock while working for a potato grower in Littleport.

David McMullan was working with irrigation equipment at Crouchmoor Farm in the village in October 2009 when he lifted one of the irrigation pipes and made contact with a 33,000 volt overhead power line.

The resulting electric shock meant Mr McMullan, 20, from County Antrim in Northern Ireland, suffered internal injuries and severe burns which led to his big toe being amputated. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted his employers Waldersley Farms Limited, after an investigation.

Ely Magistrates Court heard Waldersley Farms has working premises covering 11,000 acres across Norfolk and Cambridgeshire but the HSE probe found a lack of training and information given to employees and contractors. There had also been no assessment on how to carry out the work safely.

The farming firm based at Lynn Road, Southery, Downham Market, admitted breaching Regulation 4(3) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and was fined £10,000 with £2,223.38 costs.

HSE inspector, Stephen Faulkner, said: “This was a horrible incident which was entirely preventable had his employers made Mr McMullan aware of the overhead power lines and the risk they posed to the working environment.

“Mr McMullan is lucky to be alive. However, that doesn’t deflect from the severity of the injuries he suffered and the nine weeks he spent in hospital.

“Between 10 and 15 people are killed each year by inadvertent contact with overhead power lines, and on average two of these work in agriculture. Employers must ensure that appropriate training and supervision is provided to employees and contractors and a sufficient risk assessment must also be carried out.”

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