• Robert Spicer

Trench injury: unsafe system of work:company fined £200,000

Trench injury: £200,000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v Forefront Utilities Ltd (2017) Maidstone Crown Court, April 12

Statutory reference: s.2 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc., Act 1974 (HSWA).

Forefront Utilities Ltd, a company specialising in gas infrastructure, has been fined after a worker suffered serious injury when working in a trench.

The facts

· In May 2014 an employee of the company was working in a trench in Rochester, Kent, to connect gas pipes. The pipes were resting on timber across the trench. A pipe fell into the trench and struck the worker. He suffered serious injuries including a fractured spine.

· The method for jointing newly laid sections of pipe to previously laid pipe was unsafe.

The decision

The company was fined £200,000 plus £56,000 costs for a breach of s.2, HSWA.

An HSE inspector commented after the case that if a suitable safe system of work had been in place before the incident, the life changing injuries suffered by the worker could have been prevented.

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