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HSE warning after firm fined for trench safety breaches

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned ground engineering businesses to take more care over working around deep excavations after a firm was fined yesterday for safety breaches that led to serious injury.

KDS Construction Company has been fined £70,000 and ordered to pay over £4,000 in costs by Sheffield Magistrates’ Court after being found guilty of safety breaches after a worker suffered life threatening injuries while working in a trench.

The court heard that, in September 2016, a KDS employee was working in a 2m-deep excavation 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.

An investigation by the HSE found that the construction company had been contracted by Abbey Forged Products to carry out groundworks for the installation of a new underground water drainage system at the company’s Beeley Wood Works site in Sheffield.

HSE inspector Alison Outhwaite commented: “The employee’s injuries were life changing and he could have easily been killed. This serious incident and devastation could have been avoided if basic safe guards 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).

“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life changing injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”

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