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TRAPPED MAN DUG OUT OF EXCAVATION BY HAND

Company and director fined after excavation collapsed …on director

PNT Contractors Ltd and director Paul Connolly have been prosecuted after a Mr Connolly was partially buried when the high sides of an excavation collapsed on an Essex site in July 2014.

Paul Connolly was rescued by workers digging him out by hand after the excavation collapse. He was taken to hospital and suffered a broken leg and ankle.

Southend Magistrates heard (4th Mar) that extensive ground work was being carried out at the site in Bilericay where Paul Connolly used an excavator to dig into the side of a slope, leaving unsupported excavation sides up to 2.5 m 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.

Simple and inexpensive precautions

PNT Contractors Ltd of 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 2007.

Paul Martin Connolly of 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.”

Collapsed excavation with wooden planks added after the incident

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