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CONTRACTOR IMPRISONED OVER EXCAVATION DEATH

Workman died when unsupported trench suddenly collapsed

A contractor has been handed a 6 months prison sentence after an employee died when the trench he was working in collapsed on 26 June 2012.

Swansea Magistrates’ Court heard how William Ryan Evans was contracted to construct a drainage field comprising of infiltration pipes laid at the bottom of deep trenches. He employed two workers and a subcontractor operating an excavator to undertake the work at Longstone Farm, in Pembrokeshire.

Hywel Glyndwr Richards, aged 54, entered the trench “to remove a clump of soil” which had fallen into the trench when the trench suddenly collapsed burying him under the soil. He died at the scene.

HSE found the work was not planned appropriately and that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment had not been undertaken. The workmen involved were not appropriately trained and suitable equipment to a prevent collapse was not provided.

Prevent entry into excavations deeper than 1.2m

Swansea Crown Court heard (11 April 2016) that William Ryan Evans, of Trelech, Carmarthenshire was found guilty of breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was he given a six month custodial sentence.

HSE Inspector Phil Nicolle said:

“This tragic incident could have been prevented by undertaking a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks, providing the correct equipment or safe working methods and managing and monitoring the work to ensure it was done safely.

Work in excavations needs to be properly planned, managed and monitored to ensure no one enters an excavation deeper than 1.2m without adequate controls in place to prevent a collapse.”

Hywel Richards’ family said:

“Dad was an integral part of our family, the glue that kept us all together. Our family was devastated by his sudden death. We have wondered so many times why this has happened to us, we were meant to grow up with Dad as our guide; the man we looked up to and loved so much.

Today, and for the rest of our lives, we are mourning the loss of dad, our best friend, our confidant and protector. Quite simply, he has left a space that will never be filled. We hope that lessons will be learned from dad’s death.”

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