Construction company fined £70,000 for safety breaches

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A Yorkshire construction company has been fined £70,000 for safety breaches after a worker suffered life threatening injuries.

A 48-year-old employee of KDS Construction was working in a two-metre-deep excavation in September 2016 when he was struck on the head and pinned down by a large segment of concrete.

He suffered multiple injuries, including fractures to his skull, ribs, left arm and vertebrae.

The company had been contracted by Abbey Forged Products Limited to carry out groundworks for the installation of a new underground water drainage system in Sheffield.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation found that KDS employees had dug out a number of excavations for the new tanks and pipework.

After one tank had been installed, work started on another excavation for a second tank next to the first.

While it was being dug, one of the groundworkers was asked to cover over some pipework which was sticking out of the first tank to protect it from being damaged by backfill.

When he went down into the excavation, a section of unsupported concrete which was overhanging the excavation broke off and fell onto him.

At Sheffield Magistrates’ Court, KDS Construction Company Ltd of Taylors Court, Rotherham pleaded guilty to Health and Safety breaches and was fined £70,000 with costs of £4,016.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Alison Outhwaite said: “The employee’s injuries were life changing and he could have been killed. This serious incident and devastation could have been avoided if basic safeguards had been put in place.

“This case highlights the need to be aware of the risks of working in and near excavations. The groundwork industry need to appreciate the risks even where excavations are thought to be ‘shallow’ or the ground considered to be stable.

As HSE guidance states. ‘Any unsupported excavation will be safe ONLY if its sides are battered back sufficiently or if the excavation is in sound rock (HSG150).”