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INQUEST: WORKMAN IGNORED TRENCH WARNING

Coroner hears how warnings failed to prevent excavation death

It has been reported by This is Somerset that a coroner has highlighted the need for for excavation safety precautions after a “conscientious” contractor “ignored more than 20 warnings” and died when a trench collapsed on 8th November 2011. The fire and rescue service found the trench to be so unstable that his body was not recovered until the following day.

Stephen White was excavating a 3m trench with a digger to carry a flexible water pipe when he noticed a kink in the pipe and “insisted on going into the trench” to sort it out. He was in the trench no more than a minute when the side collapsed.

HSE Inspector Simon Chilcott told the Taunton inquest the trench should have been “shored up with either wood or metal sheeting or the sides cut away at a 45-degree angle”. He added that between 1986 and 1996, 38 people died in a trench collapse with a further 11 deaths between 1997 and 2004.

Evidence read to the inquest stated that Mr White was told “20 times” that no one should go in the trench.  A jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

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