Death of employee results in a six-month custodial sentence

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Posted on 13 Apr 2016

A self-employed contractor has been sentenced after an employee was killed when the trench he was working in collapsed on him.

The self-employed contractor 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 excavator to undertake the work at a farm.

The deceased, aged 54, entered the trench to remove a clump of soil that had fallen into the trench when it collapsed, burying him. He died at the scene.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that the work was not planned appropriately and the risk assessment was not suitable or sufficient. The workers were not appropriately trained and suitable equipment to a prevent collapse were not provided.

William Ryan Evans, was found guilty of breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was 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 to the workers and managing and monitoring the work to ensure it was done safely.

Recommendations for preventing injury whilst working in a trench

  • Ensure a robust bespoke live risk assessment is recorded and communicated to all workers
  • Provide suitable means of shoring and safety measures for working in a trench
  • Review the weather and ground conditions when working in a trench
  • Monitor the trench conditions at suitable intervals 
  • Protect workers from loose rock or soil that could fall or roll from an excavation face by scaling to remove loose material, installing protective barricades at appropriate intervals, or using other equivalent forms of protection.
  • Doyle Clayton can support your business with providing health and safety advice and support. Please contact Sally Beck for further information.

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