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June 20, 2012

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Construction worker buried waist-deep in trench collapse

A former international kick boxer has been forced to give up the sport after being badly injured in a trench collapse at a construction site in Lincolnshire.

Zak Davis, 36, was working for engineering firm Phil Watson Civil Engineering Ltd during the construction of a small housing development in Bardney, Lincolnshire.

On 4 August 2011, he was laying drainpipes in a trench, while it was being dug by an excavator. It had rained heavily earlier in the day and the digger operator noticed the walls of the trench were beginning to crack. He shouted at Mr Davis for him to get out of the trench, but before he could escape it collapsed. He was hit by debris, as well as a large block of concrete, and was buried up to his waist.

Mr Davis dislocated and fractured his hip socket and shattered his pelvis. He required 10 hours of surgery and has been unable to return to work owing to his injuries. He was a talented kick boxer and represented England in the sport, but he has been forced to retire following the incident.

The HSE’s investigation found that the company had failed to assess the ground conditions and the effect that rain had caused. It also failed to put measures in place to prevent the trench from collapsing.

HSE inspector Tony Mitchell explained that the incident could have been avoided if the sides of the trench had been further sloped, or by installing mechanical trench supports. He said: “The site had previously been a farm. It had been demolished and the rubble spread on site as top fill. The subsoil beneath it was predominantly compacted sandy soil, so the ground conditions were poor; however, this was not properly identified as high risk before work started. The rain made the soil structure more unstable and the trench collapsed because it was not sufficiently supported.”

Phil Watson Civil Engineering appeared at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on 13 June and pleaded guilty to breaching reg.31(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. It was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £2141.

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11 years ago

Again a CDM notifiable job gets it wrong, and the subbie is found guilty, yet the PC gets away with it?

The Design required excavation in poor ground, the Design RA process failed to aknowledge this, the Ground Worker failed to convey this RA to the PC, & vice versa, yet was permitted to proceed?

No mention of a Permit to Dig (RA control)?

The MHSW regs are refered to in CDM, yet reg 3 is ignored by all parties involved?

Why if adopting regulatory failure, stop at reg 31(1) of CDM?

11 years ago

The requirement for RA is refered to in Reg 13 (4) (i) of CDM, yet no charge is brought?

The PC failed to aknowledge the risk at Design Stage / Tender Stage, yet reg 3 of MHSW applies?

No Permit to Dig procedure? (RA -control) yet work is permited by the PC?

If applying regulations as a dirrect causation why stop at reg 31 of CDM?

Why not include the PC, they permitted this / failed to monitor this / failed to assess the imported risk etc.

CDM implies ownership upon all to mitigate risk

11 years ago

This hazard, a fairly shallow trench (fro civil engineering), is not unusual, is it very very common. Trenches is sand collapse if not supported. The designer, provided he minimised the hazard by designing as shallow as possible should not need to notify the contractor of this risk as any competant contractor would know.
This is a question of competancy we need to be able to ban individuals from working on site ie the contractor manager / owner and the PC site manager

11 years ago

Again poor planning lack of ground surveillance before work commenced (PC)
lack of thought due to weather conditions (Contractor)
No revised method statement preventing the work from going ahead..
No adequate trench guarding before sending the employee below ground (CDM)
A low level of fine for such an injury….