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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