Fines have been handed out to a construction firm after it admitted safety failings resulting in a worker being seriously injured when an excavation trench collapsed on his leg.
Paul Fennelly, who was aged 45 and from Hamilton, was working for Galliford Try Infrastructure Ltd, trading as Morrison Construction, at a site off the B9012 near Duffus, Moray, when the incident occurred on 1 July 2011.
Elgin Sheriff Court was told that after he had been informed the water supply had been turned off, Mr Fennelly was cutting a section of cast iron water pipe within a 1.3 metre deep excavation trench.
There was a sudden gush of water from the pipe and when Mr Fennelly moved to the other side of it to get out of the way, part of the trench collapsed trapping his right leg against the pipe and covering it with clay.
His colleagues dug him out and he was taken to hospital with a snapped thigh bone. He had an operation to insert a pin and bolts and was in hospital for 10 days.
Mr Fennelly had to use walking sticks for five months and was unable to return to work until 11 months later.
He took up alternative employment but is not currently working as he needs a further operation and is still in considerable pain.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Galliford Try Infrastructure Ltd had identified the risks involved in excavation work and implemented daily excavation inspections and training in excavation work.
Insufficient consideration had been given by the company to the potential effect of a sudden flow of water to the stability of the excavation.
Galliford Try Infrastructure Ltd, of Melville Street, Edinburgh, was fined £3,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 31(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
Following the case, HSE Principal Inspector Niall Miller, said: “Risks relating to the collapse of excavations are long-standing and well-documented. As one cubic metre of soil typically weighs between 1.6 and 1.8 tonnes, even the collapse of a small quantity of material is potentially dangerous. Soil collapse can be rapid and completely without warning.”
Source: The Construction Index