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Contractor Sentenced Following Fatal Crush Injury

A self-employed contractor has been found guilty of health and safety offences after an employee died when the trench he was working in collapsed on him.

The contractor had been contracted to construct a drainage field comprising of infiltration pipes laid at the bottom of deep trenches at a farm in Pembrokeshire. He employed two workers and a subcontractor excavator to undertake the work.

Hywel Glyndwr Richards, who was 54, entered the trench to remove a clump of soil that had fallen into the trench when it collapsed, burying him. He died at the scene.

A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the work was not planned appropriately and the risk assessment was not suitable or sufficient. The HSE also discovered that the workers were not appropriately trained and suitable equipment to a prevent collapse had not been provided.

The contractor was found guilty of breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was given a six month custodial sentence.

“This tragic incident could have been prevented by undertaking a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks, providing the correct equipment or safe working methods to the workers and managing and monitoring the work to ensure it was done safely,” commented HSE Inspector Phil Nicolle.

“Work in excavations needs to be properly planned, managed and monitored to ensure no one enters an excavation deeper than 1.2m without adequate controls in place to prevent a collapse,” he added.

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