Folkestone Magistrates Court has drainage business UKDN Waterflow £60,000 and ordered it to pay £39,506 in costs following collapse of a trench near Canterbury that seriously injured a worker.
The court heard the injured worker was cutting and cleaning a pipe for rejoining at a depth in excess of 2m when the side of the pit suddenly gave way, creating a slip of soil and debris.
Investigations following the accident showed that the excavation pit was “missing vital shoring”.
HSE established that there was nothing in place to support the excavation and prevent the collapse, despite this being a clear and common risk for this kind of work. There was also no evidence of suitable planning or supervision.
After the hearing HSE Inspector Nicola Wellard said: “As a company specialising in laying water pipes and drainage systems, you would expect UKDN Waterflow 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.”