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Firm fined after employee falls into sewage

15 Nov 12 A West Midlands company has been fined after a worker fell and slid seven metres into sewage well in Halesowen.

The 34-year-old Walsall man was clearing a blockage for Tardis Environmental UK Ltd at a partially-completed housing development when the incident occurred on 26 August 2011.

A pump at the bottom of the sewage well had stopped working because it had become blocked with bulky waste material.

The used a road tanker with pump and hose attachments to clear the blockage. He opened a grid at the top of the well and stood over it to support and manipulate the hose. As he did so, the hose kicked back and hit him, toppling him into the chamber.

He managed to grab the hose as he fell and slid down it into the waste at the bottom where he stood disorientated for around 20 minutes before he realised he had his mobile phone with him and was able to call for help.

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He ingested raw sewage, sustained friction burns to his arms, and bruised his elbows, knees and head in the fall. He was off work for a number of days.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the Tardis employee had been trained in the use of the pumping equipment but had not received any instruction or training in how to empty deep, below-ground sewage wells with specific regard to the risks involved with working at height.

Tardis Environmental UK Ltd, of Fryers Road, Leamore, Bloxwich, yesterday (14 November) pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at Dudley Magistrates’ Court. The company was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 in costs.

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