Employer Fined After Labourer Drowns

Fatal Accident At Work


A labourer who drowned while building an extension to a house in Wembley, Brent, has led to a contractor being fined £750.

Appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court, Chris Byrne, of Brent, was found guilty of breaching the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations Act. As well as the fine, he was ordered to pay £750 costs.

The court heard that in June 2006, the 21-year-old labourer from Harrow started work extending a house in Charterhouse Avenue, in Wembley. He was working for Mr Byrne, who was contracted to build an extension to the property.

The labourer had limited knowledge of English. On his first day he was instructed by Mr Byrne to fill earth around the concrete blocks, in an area next to the extension. Mr Byrne removed a board covering a 1.74 metre excavation pit to show him that it was filled with water.
Mr Byrne then left him alone on the site, leaving the excavation pit unguarded. Later that day, when Mr Byrne returned, he found the labourer head first in the pit with water up to his waist. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Health and Safety Executive Inspector Monica Babb said: "The labourer had little experience and was left alone with an excavation pit that wasn't properly guarded. His death was clearly avoidable as the risks of excavations and falling from height is well known."

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David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “This was a terrible fatal accident at work.

“I am seeing an increase in cases involving migrant workers.

“Employers need to ensure workers understand any training or warnings and this is a particular problem when workers have a limited command of English.

“If workers fail to understand instructions there is a greater chance of them being injured or killed in an industrial accident.”