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A Kent construction company that was fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) could face legal action from a former employee who was injured in a workplace accident.
The BBS Construction employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, crushed his right hip in the accident at Benenden School for Girls in January 2011.
At the time of the accident, the worker, aged 44 at the time, was excavating a basement to support a new multi-storey science building at the school.
The concrete used to fix supporting posts for a wall had, however, been overpoured, and the excess had to be chipped away with a hydraulic breaker, something that triggered a partial collapse of the structure.
Fortunately, the builder managed to stop the flow of earth into the basement by putting the bucket of his machine into the face of the weakened earth. Despite this, another worker was trapped under the earth, while another managed to jump clear of the danger.
The worker's hip was severely crushed and he was forced to take months off work.
An inspection by the HSE found a waste water drain had been installed by BBS Construction less than half-a-metre from the entrance of the basement, at a depth of only two metres. This, the experts concluded, made the basement more susceptible to collapse.
BBS Construction was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £10,536 in costs after pleading guilty to a health and safety breach.
HSE inspector Kevin Golding said: "This prosecution demonstrates the need to properly plan all aspects of excavation activity, and to reassess systems and methods of work if a problem arises, as happened here when the concrete for the supporting posts was overpoured."
"The retaining wall system itself was sound, but the decision to manually chip away the excess was flawed."
It is unclear if the worker will pursue legal action, but if he chooses to do so, he may be entitled to a significant compensation claim due to his extended leave of absence from his job.
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