Two companies have been fined £160,000 after a structure that allows water to flow under roads collapsed on a worker causing serious injury.
The old, damaged, brick culvert under Tudeley Lane in Tonbridge trapped Michael Skitt, 63, when it fell in January 2012.
Both Enterprise (AOL) Ltd and Topbond PLC failed to adequately assess the stability of the structure and carry out sufficient planning to ensure adequate control measures were in place, despite been warned of the potential of collapse by the original designers and engineers.
Duty of care
Kent County Council appointed Enterprise to replace the culvert. It in turn appointed Topbond to do the majority of the work.
Culverts are embedded structures, usually surround by soil and can be made from steel, brick or reinforced concrete or other material. They are used to transport water underground from one side of a road or railway to another.
While the repair and replacement of culverts is a relatively unusual construction job, the collapse of excavations and structures is common knowledge.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says the companies failed in their duty of care to protect their workers while carrying out the job.
Its investigation found the old culvert was meant to be totally demolished early on in the work. When the plan changed, the implications of uncovering half of the damaged culvert, and therefore loading it unevenly and undermining it, were not properly managed.
Mr Skitt and two other workers had entered the area between two culverts in order to clear a channel for the remaining water to flow toward the pump head.
They had begun to clear loose material but had not started digging when the old culvert collapsed. One man jumped clear, while another was hit but managed to release himself.
The 63-year-old spent a total of 26 days in hospital following the accident at work. He has had to give up full-time work and now walks with a stick.
Enterprise (AOL) Ltd pleading guilty to breaching section 22 (1) and 28 (1) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007. It was fined a total of £90,000 and ordered to pay costs of £22,876. Topbond PLC admitted breaches of section 13 (1) and 28 (1) of the same regulations. It was fined £70,000 and ordered to pay costs of £22,876.60.
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: February 10, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown