News

House builder jailed for wall collapse manslaughter of 'hard working' employee

By on

A Surrey building firm owner has been jailed for 22 months after one of his employees was killed when an unstable wall collapsed on top of him.


At Kingston Crown Court on 29 June, Slawomir Swiatek, (pictured below), 49, a Polish national of Brighton Road, Addlestone was sentenced for the gross negligence manslaughter of 41-year-old Grzegorz Wrezel. Swiatek had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing and had admitted breaches of his duty under the Health and Safety Act 1974.

The court heard how Grzegorz Wrezel had been working for Swiatek's building firm - Earnest Builders Ltd - at a site in Manor Way, Worcester Park in Surrey on the day of the incident, 3 February 2016.

A one-storey extension was being added to a house and Wrezel and another employee were digging out a trench for the foundations to be laid.

Swiatek told his employees that the trench should be dug directly alongside an existing boundary wall.

The court heard that as Grzegorz was duly working in the trench, the wall collapsed. The lower portion of the wall pinned his legs while the upper portion fell on his upper body.

The man was taken to hospital, but his injuries were so severe that, following medical advice, his life support was withdrawn and he died on 10 February 2016.

In the investigation by the police and HSE, it was found that Swiatek had paid ‘no regard’ to his obligations as an employer.

His assessment of the boundary wall, and whether it was stable enough to have a trench dug next to it, was cursory at best, the court were told.

The fact that the wall and the trench beneath it had not been shored up in any way, led directly to the wall collapsing.

It also emerged that Swiatek had provided no safety equipment to his workers and did not ensure they wore hard hats while on site.

Detective Chief Inspector Sam Price, who led the police investigation, said: "Grzegorz Wrezel was a hard-working man who left his home that day with every expectation that he would return safe and well.

"Due to Swiatek's lack of health and safety considerations, sadly this was not the case.

"This death was entirely preventable and illustrates why employers should take their responsibilities with regard to health and safety seriously - in this case, it was a matter of life and death."

At the sentencing Swiatek was also disqualified from a being a company directory for a period of seven years.

NEWS


woman sewing in sweat shop in asia iStock_SMLL.jpg

Single enforcement body for worker rights proposed in consultation

By Belinda Liversedge on 13 September 2019

A consultation entering its last weeks asks whether a new Single Enforcement Body for employment rights should be created to protect vulnerable workers.



Aquatic test after chemical incident_SMLL.jpg

Safety and environmental law enforcers ‘hamstrung' by ten years of cuts

By Belinda Liversedge on 09 September 2019

Funding and capability of the UK’s leading enforcement agencies, from the Environment Agency, Food Standards Agency, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to Forestry Commission has dropped, on average, by 50 per cent in the past ten years.



Grenfell Flickr ChiralJon small.jpg

324 high rises still ‘cloaked in dangerous cladding’

By Belinda Liversedge on 06 September 2019

Government was accused of letting private tower block owners ‘drag their feet’ over removal of dangerous Grenfell-style cladding, at the House of Commons yesterday.