Prosecutions

Excavator crush not reported despite worker losing leg

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A Surrey builder has been jailed for six months after failing to report a serious safety incident at a construction site he oversaw.


On 8 January 2019, construction worker Simon Lewis had been clearing a site on Clarence Avenue, New Malden near south-west London with an excavator so a new house could be built.

The excavator tipped while digging and it trapped Mr Lewis’ leg, requiring an amputation.

An investigation by HSE found Mr Lewis had received no formal training for operating excavators and had asked for a 3-ton model to do the work. However, he was given only a 1.7-ton excavator and Mr Lewis was put under pressure to use this.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard the incident was not reported to HSE. HSE was only able to start an investigation more than eight months later when the victim complained. “By this time crucial evidence relating to the cause of the incident was unobtainable,” said HSE’s report on the case.

Paul Adams, trading as Surrey Conversions, received a 24-week custodial sentence for breaching regulation 3(1) of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.

Investigating HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers said: “This case re-enforces how important it is that incidents are reported so they can be investigated, and improvements made to prevent serious incidents in future.

“The judge noted Mr Adams had not reported the incident even when prompted to by a solicitor.”

It emerged that Mr Adams had also not obtained any health and safety related training during his 50 years in the construction industry.

The inspector added: “We went to great efforts to ensure Mr Adams made improvements. However, in court it was confirmed that although he had told the probation officer, he had stopped work, he was still carrying out construction work at an unidentified site despite failing a health and safety test.”

 

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