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HSE: People die when the walls of holes collapse

6 May 2016
Man in pit

The scene that confronted an HSE Inspector when he went through the front door. He brought the work to an immediate end.

HSE has issued a warning again about the dangers of working in excavations on construction sites. When the walls of excavations collapse, workers can be buried alive and die.

The latest warning comes after an HSE Inspector opened the front door of a house where work was progressing to be confronted with what is pictured here.

As a result, RS Construction UK (London) Ltd was fined £40,000 with £1,486 costs for safety failings when it appeared before Westminster Magistrates in April.

The inspector found there was an excavation directly behind the front door, which was the only entrance and exit to the site. The hole was approximately 3.5m deep. The sides had nothing to shore them up and there was no edge protection around the top of the excavation to stop persons, materials or objects falling into it. A worker in the bottom of the hole was told to get out immediately.

When HSE investigated, it discovered RS Construction had received enforcement action in relation to similar risks posed on other sites, yet still it had failed to ensure there was suitable and sufficient safe access and egress to and from this site on St Dionis Road, London, and had failed to ensure all practicable steps were taken to prevent danger to any person working in the excavation.

RS Construction UK (London) Ltd, of International House, Regents Street, London, pleaded guilty to breaches of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015.

HSE has guidance on excavations that can be downloaded as PDFs from: www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/cis66.pdf

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