Operative breaks leg in trench collapse

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A construction operative  breaks leg in trench collapse after sudden gush of water Paul Fennelly, then aged 45 from Hamilton, was working for Galliford Try Infrastructure Ltd, trading as Morrison Construction, at a site off the B9012 near Duffus, Moray, when the incident occurred on 1 July 2011.

Galliford Try Infrastructure Ltd have been fined for the incednt which happened when he had been told the water supply had been turned off, Fennelly was cutting a section of cast iron water pipe within a 1.3 metre deep excavation trench when the pressure hit him and caused the collapse of the trench he took avoiding action and moved to the other side of the pipe, part of the trench collapsed trapping his right leg against the pipe and covering it with clay, his colleagues dug him out and he was taken to hospital with a snapped thigh bone.

Paul Fennelly had an operation to insert a pin and bolts and was in hospital for 10 days. Fennelly had to use walking sticks for five months and was unable to return to work until 11 months later but is still in pain from the accident.

Galliford Try Infrastructure of Melville Street, Edinburgh, was fined £3,000 after pleading guilty to breaching the CDM regulations.

Following the case, HSE Principal Inspector Niall Miller, commented : “Risks relating to the collapse of excavations are long-standing and well-documented.

“As one cubic metre of soil typically weighs between 1.6 and 1.8 tonnes, even the collapse of a small quantity of material is potentially dangerous. Soil collapse can be rapid and completely without warning.

“While the inspection carried out by Galliford Try had concluded that the excavation had been dug appropriately, it had not sufficiently taken the water into account.

“As a result, the company failed to assess whether additional protective measures were needed to prevent collapse, such as sloping or battering the sides or some form of support such as shoring.

“As a result Mr Fennelly has been left with a very painful injury from which he has still not fully recovered.”