Contractor Sentenced in UK Trench Fatality

The HSE investigators found the work was not planned appropriately, with insufficient risk assessment and workers not appropriately trained or equipped to perform the work or prevent the collapse.

A self-employed contractor has been sentenced in a case where an employee died in a trench collapsed on June 26, 2012, the Health & Safety Executive announced. William Ryan Evans was contracted to construct a drainage field with pipes laid at the bottom of deep trenches, and he hired two workers and a subcontractor excavator to handle the job.

Hywel Glyndwr Richards, 54, entered the trench to remove a clump of soil that had fallen in it. The trench collapsed, burying him, and he died at the scene.

The HSE investigators found the work was not planned appropriately, with insufficient risk assessment and workers not appropriately trained or equipped to perform the work or prevent the collapse.

Evans was found guilty April 11 of breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was given a six-month custodial sentence. "This tragic incident could have been prevented by undertaking a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks, providing the correct equipment or safe working methods to the workers and managing and monitoring the work to ensure it was done safely," said HSE Inspector Phil Nicolle. "Work in excavations needs to be properly planned, managed, and monitored to ensure no one enters an excavation deeper than 1.2 meters without adequate controls in place to prevent a collapse."

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