Excavation work was unplanned and caused accident with excavator vehicle…
A director of a construction firm has been prosecuted after an employee he had contracted to work on a refurbishment of a cottage lost a leg in an accident at the site in Wimborne on 29 April 2009.
The subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident discovered that the property being renovated had been built on a slope and the ground level needed to be excavated before adding the foundation for an extension. The accident victim, a self-employed labourer, was working on the excavation when a gable wall collapsed and caused him to fall to the ground. However the situation worsened when part of the collapsed wall shattered the windscreen of the excavator vehicle and activated a reverse lever in the machine. The man’s leg became trapped between the track and body of the excavator and he suffered multiple injuries, the most serious of which were to his right leg which had to be amputated above the knee.
Dorchester Crown Court heard that the director of the building firm did not ensure the excavation work was carried out in a safe manner nor did he identify the urgent need to support the building and have the necessary safety protocols in place during the excavation phase of the building project.
The director pleaded guilty to breaching Section 28(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined £2,000 in addition to prosecution costs £18,000.
HSE Inspector Frank Flannery spoke after the hearing had concluded:
“This was a very serious and wholly preventable incident in which a man in his prime lost a leg as a result of the omissions and failings during the planning and construction phases of the project.
“Had the director fully assessed the safety aspects of the work that he was contracted to do prior to starting, he would have identified the need to support the building during the excavation and the building of the new foundation. This would have allowed a structural engineer to be instructed prior to the work starting, and a safe system of work could have been determined.
“Whilst welcoming the verdict today, the fact remains that this incident could have easily resulted in a more serious outcome and is a reminder to all those in the construction industry of their legal duties to manage health and safety.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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