A construction site boss has been fined £75,000 after a worker was buried alive when the trench he was digging collapsed on top of him.
The 24-year-old self-employed banksman was laying pipes at a building site in Kent in April 2011 when the walls of the 5ft deep trench collapsed around him, burying him under tons of soil.
Despite frantic attempts by his colleagues to dig him out using a spade and their bare hands, the man tragically suffered heart failure and was pronounced dead at the scene. It was only his second day on the job.
After pleading guilty to breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, the director of the construction firm involved was fined £75,000 and sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.
An inquest in October 2014, heard that the site had been visited by a building inspector from Canterbury City Council. However, even though she had branded the site “exceptionally bad” she had failed to report it to the Health and Safety Executive as the job was nearly finished.
On the day of the fatal work accident, the trench was being dug to connect mains, drainage, water and gas supplies from two new bungalows.
The construction boss responsible for safety on the site was charged with failing to control the risk of the trench collapsing by not supporting it. He was also charged with failing to supervise the excavation, failing to implement the firm’s own health and safety policy, and failing to ensure his employees were properly trained for the job.
Sadly, as with so many of the work accident compensation claims we deal with, this tragic incident was entirely preventable. When employees are not properly trained and the work they are tasked with doing is not properly managed or supervised, the likelihood of accidents such as these occurring is unsurprisingly greater.
142 people tragically lost their lives in fatal work accidents in 2014-15. Although this figure is 9% lower than the average for the past five years, it still means that 142 families were left to deal with the devastating and sudden loss of a loved one.
Matthew Tomlinson is a Senior Personal Injury Lawyer specialising in work accident compensation claims for Slater and Gordon Lawyers.
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