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EXCAVATION COLLAPSE BURIED WORKMAN

Drainage firm fined following second incident and injury

UKDN Waterflow Limited of Slough has been fined after a workman was seriously injured when an unsupported excavation collapsed during work to lay new pipes outside a home in Kent in April 2011.

Michael Simpkins sustained multiple fractures to his left leg in the incident and was unable to work for six weeks before later resigning because of recurring pain and psychological trauma.

Folkestone Magistrates heard he was cutting and cleaning a pipe for rejoining at a depth in excess of 2m when a side of the excavation suddenly gave way and completely burying the lower part of his body and “buckling” his leg. He was dug out by a colleague and taken to hospital.

HSE found nothing in place to support the excavation and prevent the collapse and there was no evidence of suitable planning or supervision.

Abundantly clear that shoring a basic necessity

UKDN Waterflow Limited of Slough, was fined a total of £60,000 and ordered to pay a further £39,506 in costs after failing to attend court and being found guilty of three separate breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Magistrates were told that in February 2011 HSE received a complaint about another UKDN excavation which suffered a partial collapse. Nobody was injured on that occasion which “should have served as a warning that adequate shoring is required at all times”.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Nicola Wellard said:

“As a company specialising in laying water pipes and drainage systems, you would expect UKDN Waterflow Limited to be acutely aware of the dangers posed by unsupported excavations.

It is, after all, an intrinsic part of what they do, and we established that shoring was used in some other projects managed by the firm. It makes the failings we found in the Bridge collapse all the more baffling, as it should have been abundantly clear that the provision and use of shoring was a basic necessity.

Sadly there was nothing in place and an employee sustained a painful, debilitating injury that has had lasting consequences.

I hope the prosecution serves as a reminder to all companies who engage in excavation work that adequate shoring is required at all times, irrespective of the size of the dig.”

 

Earlier excavation work carried out by defendant

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