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CONTRACTOR PLEADS GUILTY TO EXCAVATION FAILINGS

Magistrates refuse to sentence in case of excavation collapse fataility

It has been reported that Russell Smith Ltd of Buckinghamshire is to be sentenced in the Crown Court after pleading guilty to breaching HSW Act Section 3 following the death of a workman who died when a trench collapsed.

Joshua Bladon was working on a home extension project in Aylesbury on 11 April 2008 when the incident occurred. Magistrates heard from HSE that the company failed to conduct a sufficient and suitable risk assessment after it was decided increase the excavation depth to 2m deep.

“Our son did not die he was killed”

Harry Vann, for Russell Smith Ltd, said:

“This is a very small company, the gentleman who died was a valued worker and friend and they have gone through a very great deal as a result of this.”

Joshua’s father dad, Tony Bladon, said he was pleased the company had pleaded guilty but added:

“We don’t care about money, money doesn’t come into it. All we want, all we have ever wanted is justice for Josh. Our son didn’t die, he was killed.”

At the inquest in January 2010 Mr Domenico Iannone the excavator driver said:

“Josh was behind me on the dumper and then I saw him walk past the digger and say something like ‘hang on’ as I turned round to empty the bucket.

When I turned back he had disappeared, the trench had fallen in and there was no sign of Josh. I could just see the top of his woolly hat and realised he was under there.”

The post mortem showed that Mr Bladon died from asphyxiation.

Comment

We are aware of 22 deaths involving the collapse of an excavation over the last 10 years. The frequency of excavation related fatalities has risen rapidly recently with 5 of those deaths occuring since 1 April 2010. 

The majority of the deaths occurred on minor commercial projects (10) with major commercial projects, new homes and domestic projects each accounting for 4 fatalities. 

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