Firm and director fined after excavation collapse
The director of a building firm suffered a broken ankle and leg after he was partially buried when the high sides of an excavation he was working on collapsed on him, a court has heard. As a director he was fined £15,000 and his company was also fined £15,000 for breaches to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations.
Paul Connolly, director of Bushey-based PNT Contractors Ltd, had to be rescued by workers digging him out by hand after the excavation collapse at a site in Essex in July 2014.
The incident was investigated by HSE, which prosecuted Mr Connolly and the company at Southend Magistrates’ Court on 4 March.
The court heard PNT Contractors Ltd was carrying out extensive ground work at a site in Crays Hills, Bilericay, when the incident took place.
Paul Connolly had used an excavator to dig into the side of a slope, leaving unsupported excavation sides of up to 2.5 metres in height.
Mr Connolly and another employee were working in the sheer-faced excavation when it collapsed. The second worker managed to jump to safety but Mr Connolly was partially buried and trapped by the falling earth and had to be dug out by hand by his two employees.
HSE served a prohibition notice the following day stopping any work until the excavation was made safe.
PNT Contractors Ltd of Sparrows Herne, Bushey, Hertfordshire, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,176 after admitting a breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations.
Paul Martin Connolly of Lipton Street, Watford, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,176 for a similar breach by virtue of being a director of the company.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Adam Hills said: “Paul Connolly not only endangered himself, but was reckless with the lives of his employees. Every year people are killed or seriously injured by collapsing trenches. The dangers here were obvious.
“A few simple and inexpensive precautions could have easily prevented this from occurring. To prevent a collapse you should shore, step, or batter back the sides. Do not assume ground will stand up unsupported.”
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