South Yorkshire firm admits health and safety breaches after worker suffers “life-changing” injuries
Construction firms have been warned to be aware of the risks of working in excavations after an employee suffered life-changing injuries when a slab of concrete fell on him.
Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard that, in September 2016, a 48-year-old employee of KDS Construction Company Ltd was working in a 2m-deep excavation when he was struck on the head and pinned down by a large segment of concrete. He suffered multiple injuries, including fractures to his skull, ribs, left arm and vertebrae.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the firm had been contracted by Abbey Forged Products Limited to carry out groundworks for the installation of a new underground water drainage system at the company’s Beeley Wood Works site in Sheffield.
The investigation also found that KDS employees had dug out a number of excavations for the new tanks and pipework. After one tank had been installed, work started on another excavation for a second tank adjacent to the first.
While this was being dug, one of the groundworkers was asked to cover over some pipework which was sticking out of the first tank to protect it from being damaged by backfill. When he descended into the excavation to do this, a section of unsupported concrete which was overhanging the excavation broke off and fell onto him.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Alison Outhwaite said the employee’s injuries were life changing and he could have easily been killed. “This serious incident and devastation could have been avoided if basic safe guards had been put in place.
“This case highlights the need to be aware of the risks of working in and near excavations. The groundwork industry need to appreciate the risks even where excavations are thought to be ‘shallow’ or the ground considered to be stable.
“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life-changing injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”
KDS Construction Company Ltd of Taylors Court, Rotherham pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches and was fined £70,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,016.15.