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Scottish Company Fined after Worker Seriously Injured

A Scottish construction company has appeared in Dundee Sheriff Court on health and safety charges after a worker was injured in a trench collapse.

The 43-year-old was working on a house renovation project in Falkland. A trench was being dug with an excavator to help connect the drainage system of the old property with a new extension. The injured man, who was in the trench laying the new piping, was trying to help guide the excavator. During this operation one of the trench walls, nine feet deep, subsided, burying the worker under the dislodged earth.

Workers immediately started digging the soil away from the man’s head to allow him to breathe. He remained partially buried in the trench until the emergency services arrived and dug him free. He suffered a broken shoulder and collarbone as well as punctures to both of his lungs and fractures to all but two of his ribs, and had to remain in hospital for almost three weeks.

The company, from Glenrothes in Fife, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £14,000.

“The risks associated with collapsing excavation walls are well known, as are the necessary control measures which could easily have been employed,” commented HSE Inspector Ritchie McCrae. “On this occasion, the company failed to identify the risk and consequently there was a total absence of any control measure which would have prevented this incident from occurring.  The injured worker sustained serious, permanent injury and is extremely lucky to still be alive.”

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