A labourer working on a basement excavation in Fulham was
crushed to death when the excavations, which were not properly
The owner of the excavation company (who was also the site
manager) was found guilty of manslaughter, as he was aware of the
dangerous state of the excavations, but took no steps to ensure it
was safe. In addition, a health and safety advisor, Richard
Golding, was prosecuted for exposing another to a risk of health
and safety, and he too was convicted. Both have been jailed.
Mr Golding assisted the excavation company in writing their
method statement, and carried out monthly site visits. The court
determined that the method statement was inadequate, as it did not
include any temporary works engineer drawings or schemes in
relation to the propping and shoring of temporary works that would
be needed on site, and was clearly a "cut and paste
exercise", taken from a method statement for a previous
workplace. The court also noted that once the work commenced a
completely different procedure to that in the method statement was
followed, and that Mr Golding was aware of this through his
inspections of the site, but took no actions.
Photographic evidence presented to the court showed a number of
deep unshored and unpropped excavations. However, Mr Golding
maintained both in interview and in court that he did not see any
excavations at all other than a small one at the front of the
building, which was a shallow trial pit. He did not appear to have
noticed that extensive excavation work was underway and ongoing at
the site during the period of his visits.
In sentencing Mr Golding to nine months imprisonment, the Judge
said that Mr Golding's defence (in relation to seeing no
excavations on site) was "ludicrous" and that his failure
to do anything when on site showed a level of disregard to the
workforce that was "staggering".
The court also noted that the danger of collapse was not only
foreseeable; it had been specifically identified by Mr Golding in
his risk assessments.
This case is a salutary reminder that people other than
employers can be prosecuted in relation to workplace accidents. The
health and safety advisor was effectively in charge of a place of
work, as he had the power to halt the work if it was unsafe. A
similar incident could easily result in the same penalty in New
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