£70k fine in excavation case

Risks of working in and near excavations highlighted by incident

A construction company has been fined £70,000 for safety breaches after a worker suffered life threatening injuries in September 2016.

Sheffield Magistrates heard that a 48-year-old employee of K. D. S. Construction Company Ltd was working in a 2m deep excavation when he was struck on the head and pinned down by a large segment of concrete.

He suffered multiple injuries, including fractures to his skull, ribs, left arm and vertebrae.

The company was contracted by a manufacturing company to carry out groundwork for the installation of a new underground water drainage system at the company premises Sheffield.

Struck by falling concrete

KDS employees completed a number of excavations for the new tanks and pipework. One tank was installed and work started on another excavation for a second tank adjacent to the first.

Whilst the second excavation was being undertaken a ground worker was instructed to cover over pipework projecting from the first tank in order to protect the pipework from damage by back fill.

When the workman descended into the excavation a section of unsupported concrete overhanging the excavation broke away and struck the workman.

  • K.D.S. Construction Company Ltd – of Taylors Court, Rotherham pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £70,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,016.15.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Alison Outhwaite commented:“The employee’s injuries were life changing and he could have easily been killed. This serious incident and devastation could have been avoided if basic safe guards had been put in place.

This case highlights the need to be aware of the risks of working in and near excavations. The groundwork industry need to appreciate the risks even where excavations are thought to be ‘shallow’ or the ground considered to be stable. As HSE guidance states. ‘Any unsupported excavation will be safe ONLY if its sides are battered back sufficiently or if the excavation is in sound rock (HSG150).

If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life changing injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”

£70k fine in excavation case
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