Peterlee Magistrates’ Court heard how the employee of Mike Neesam & Son Limited had been working on a toilet refurbishment project on Hall Hill Farm, County Durham. When he attempted to walk out of a shallow trench, he was struck and crushed by a collapsing wall weighing approximately 2.2 tonnes.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) into the circumstances of this incident found the company failed to take the appropriate measures to prevent structures from collapsing; it was found the wall in question was left unsupported and put employees at risk of harm.
Mike Neesam & Son Limited of Coundon Industrial Estate, Bishop Auckland pleaded guilty of breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,928.28. A victim surcharge of £120 was also ordered.
HSE inspector Andrew Woodhall said: “The company failed to identify the risks associated with free standing walls and as a result this ultimately cost Mr Ratcliffe his life.This tragic case should act as a reminder to all duty holders that appropriate safety measures need to be taken to protect employees at all times.”