Firms fined £160,000 for role in worker’s ac­ci­dent

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Nuts & Bolts - By Annabel Rus­bridgeThomas

Two build­ing firms have been fined af­ter a cul­vert col­lapsed on an Ash­ford man, leav­ing him with life-chang­ing in­juries.

Michael Skitt was work­ing to re­place an old brick cul­vert in Ton­bridge when he be­came trapped.

The 63-year-old suf­fered breaks to his shoul­der blades and shin. He also dis­lo­cated a knee.

He spent 26 days in hos­pi­tal, has had to give up full-time work and now walks with a stick.

Maid­stone Crown Court heard Kent County Coun­cil (KCC) ap­pointed En­ter­prise to re­place the cul­vert al­low­ing wa­ter to flow un­der Tude­ley Lane.

En­ter­prise in turn ap­pointed Top­bond to do part of the work.

The Health and Safety Ex­ec­u­tive (HSE) told the court that in Jan­uary 2012, wa­ter was be­ing pumped out when three work­ers, in­clud­ing Mr Skitt, en­tered be­tween two cul­verts to clear a chan­nel.

They were re­mov­ing loose ma­te­rial when the struc­ture col­lapsed. One man jumped clear, an­other was hit but man­aged to re­lease him­self, but Mr Skitt, of Kingsnorth, was trapped.

HSE said the struc­ture’s sta­bil­ity was not as­sessed ad­e­quately, nor was suf­fi­cient plan­ning un­der­taken to en­sure ad­e­quate con­trol mea­sures were in place.

En­ter­prise ( AOL) Ltd of Ed­mund Hal­ley Road, Ox­ford, ad­mit­ted breaches of the Con­struc­tion De­sign & Man­age­ment Reg­u­la­tions 2007.

It was fined a to­tal of £90,000 and or­dered to pay £22,876 costs.

Top­bond PLC, of Cas­tle Road, Sit­ting­bourne, also ad­mit­ted breaches and paid £22,876.60 costs and a £70,000 fine.

Af­ter the hear­ing, HSE in­spec­tor Ni­cola Wel­lard said: “This is a sad case that has changed at least one man’s life for ever.

“The cul­vert was be­ing re­placed be­cause it had been dam­aged. That should have been enough to en­sure both con­trac­tors as­sessed the sta­bil­ity through­out the work and took ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures to en­sure peo­ple were pro­tected from the risk of col­lapse.

“The fact that the two other men es­caped with­out se­ri­ous in­jury was pure luck. This could eas­ily have been a mul­ti­ple fa­tal­ity.”

Pic­ture: Martin Apps

Maid­stone Crown Court

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