News

Director fined after the unsafe excavation he dug collapses on him

By on

The director of a Hertfordshire building firm has been hauled before the courts for failing to shore up the steep sides of a excavation he had dug that ultimately collapsed and partially buried him, breaking his leg and ankle.


Paul Connolly, director of Bushey-based PNT Contractors Ltd, had to be rescued by workers who dug him out by hand at a site in Crays Hills, Billericay, in July 2014.

PNT Contractors was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,176 after admitting a breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations, while Connolly was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,176 for a similar breach by virtue of being a director of the company.

Southend Magistrates’ Court heard how Connolly was using an excavator to dig a trench in the side of a slope on a project involving extensive groundwork at the Billericay site. He left unsupported excavation sides of up to 2.5m in height.

Connolly and another employee were working in the sheer-faced excavation when it collapsed. The second worker managed to jump to safety but Connolly was partially buried and trapped by the falling earth. He had to be dug out by hand by his two employees.

HSE served a prohibition notice the following day stopping any work until the excavation was made safe.

“Paul Connolly not only endangered himself, but was reckless with the lives of his employees,” said HSE inspector Adam Hills after the hearing. “Every year people are killed or seriously injured by collapsing trenches. The dangers here were obvious.

“A few simple and inexpensive precautions could have easily prevented this from occurring. To prevent a collapse you should shore, step, or batter back the sides. Do not assume ground will stand up unsupported.”

NEWS


Good practice awards SMLL.jpg

Healthy Workplaces Good Practice Awards: winners announced

By Belinda Liversedge on 20 September 2019

Six organisations have scooped the top prizes in EU-OSHA’s Healthy Workplaces Good Practice Awards.



Machines iStock.jpg

Low robot growth risk to wellbeing and productivity, finds inquiry

By Belinda Liversedge on 18 September 2019

The four day week and more fulfilling work is beyond the grasp of UK’s workforce because of the government’s failure to support businesses in the move to automation and robots. That’s according to a committee whose inquiry ‘Automation and the future of work’ has just been published.



Flinders burns LRGE FOR WEB.jpg

Heaters and smoke simulate fire emergencies in new ‘immersive VR’

By Belinda Liversedge on 17 September 2019

Researchers at Nottingham university have discovered how a pioneering immersive virtual reality system might be able to improve workers’ response to a fire – by getting users to smell smoldering ash and feel heat.