An engineer suffered a fractured spine after a gas pipe fell into a trench he was working in, Maidstone Crown Court heard.
Essex-based Forefront Utilities Limited has now been found guilty of health and safety failings that led to the accident at work.
Man paralysed after accident
The employee of the specialist gas infrastructure company was working in the trench in Rochester, Kent as he tried to connect gas pipes.
The new pipes had been resting on packing timber across the trench. Their weight caused the tarmac underneath to collapse, sending the pipes into the trench.
The blow fractured the man’s spine, paralysing him. He now has no feeling in his bowel.
The way the company was jointing newly laid sections of pipe to previously laid pipe was unsafe, according to an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident.
Safe working practices could have prevented accident
Forefront Utilities Limited was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £56,686.
HSE Inspector Andrew Cousins said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working.
“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.”
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: April 30, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown