Dorset Construction Firm Fined For Safety Failings

Man Spends More Than Four Weeks In Hospital After Excavation Collapses


A man suffered painful injuries when a three-metre deep excavation he was standing in subsided.

Kevin Richards, 46, of Weymouth sustained a fractured left shoulder blade, two fractured ribs, a double break to his right leg and a collapsed lung when the unsupported sides of the hole he was working in caved in.

A nearby colleague rushed to the scene and cleared enough soil away to allow Mr Richards to breathe.

The injured man had been checking preparatory work on a basement retaining wall at a property in Lilliput, Poole in June 2012.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that principle contractor Bluebay Properties of Lilliput had failed to conduct the work in a safe manner.

The regulator said the company should have ensured the excavation - which covered an area of 150 square metres - was suitably supported.

Having pleaded guilty to a  breach of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007, the construction firm was fined £6,000 and ordered to cover costs of £4,000. The company was also asked to pay a victim surcharge of £120.

Following the hearing at Bournemouth Magistrates' Court, HSE inspector James Powell said the incident "should never have happened" and it was sheer luck that prevented Mr Richards from being killed.

"There is a risk of collapse or partial collapse causing serious injury or death if an excavation is not supported or suitably battered back. Any collapse has the potential to bury or injure people working in an excavation," he remarked.

Mr Powell said Bluebay Properties had identified the risk of falling earth, but ultimately failed to introduce sufficient measures to ensure this did not happen.

"Every year people are killed or seriously injured by collapses and falling materials while working in excavations and this site represented a serious risk to workers," he added.

The construction industry is still one of the most dangerous sectors in the UK and HSE figures confirm that 39 people died while working on building projects in 2012-13.