Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard how on 7th November 2016 an employee of Award Winning Greenfingers Ltd was undertaking groundworks to install a new timber retaining structure in the garden of a property at Beamish, County Durham.
While excavating a trench in front of an existing blockwork wall, a section of the wall collapsed, trapping him underneath. He sustained a complex fracture to his pelvis, which required surgery. He has not been able to return to work since the incident.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had failed to plan and manage the installation of the timber structure properly, and had not put control measures in place to prevent the collapse of the existing blockwork wall.
Award Winning Greenfingers Ltd of Saltwell View, Gateshead pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 19 (1) of The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1048.86 and a victim surcharge of £220.
HSE inspector Cain Mitchell said after the hearing: “This case highlights the dangers of undermining a freestanding wall by excavating alongside the structure without appropriate planning and the necessary precautions in place. If the company had implemented reasonably practicable measures that minimised the risk to persons working next to such structures this incident could easily have been avoided.”