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CURSORY AND NEGLIGENT ASSESSMENT BY DIRECTOR

Building firm owner jailed after workman died in trench collapse

Polish national, Slawomir Swiatek aged 49 of Brighton Road, Addlestone, London has been jailed after he pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of workman 41-year-old Grzegorz Wrezel after a trench collapsed in February 2016.

Swiatek also admitted failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety Act 1974 at the hearing on 29 June at Kingston Crown Court were he was sentenced to a year and 10 months’ imprisonment and  disqualified from a being a company directory for a period of seven years.

The court heard how Grzegorz Wrezel was working for Earnest Builders Ltd at a site in Manor Way, Worcester Park where a single-storey home extension was being built.

Wrezel and a fellow workman were excavating a trench for the foundations after Swiatek had instructed the men that the trench should be dug directly alongside an existing boundary wall.

Grzegorz was working in the trench when the wall collapsed and the lower portion of the wall pinned his legs while the upper portion fell on his upper body.

The emergency services were called and Grzegorz was taken to hospital. His his injuries were however  so severe that his life support was withdrawn and he died on 10 February 2016.

No regard to safety obligations

Police and HSE investigators found that Swiatek has paid “no regard to his obligations under health and safety”. His assessment of the boundary wall and whether it was stable enough to have a trench dug next to it “was cursory at best”.

The fact that the wall and the trench beneath it had not been shored up in any way, led directly to the wall collapsing. It was also established Swiatek had no insurance.

Detective Chief Inspector Sam Price of the Homicide and Major Crime Command led the police investigation. She said:

“Grzegorz Wrezel was a hard-working man who left his home that day with every expectation that he would return safe and well.

Due to Swiatek’s lack of health and safety considerations, sadly this was not the case.

This death was entirely preventable and illustrates why employers should take their responsibilities with regard to health and safety seriously – in this case, it was a matter of life and death.”

 

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