Firms fined £160,000 for role in worker’s accident
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.”
Maidstone Crown Court