Man survives trench collapse, employer fined £3,500

Trench collapses can be one of the most horrifying incidents on a construction site.  The UK’s Health & Safety Executive has released photos of the trench in which a worker, Mark Miller according to one media report

“…suffered a broken leg and bruising, and was incredibly fortunate to survive the horror of being buried alive.”

The same media report from Cambridge News says

“The court heard Mr Miller was saved by Hill [the contractor and Miller’s employer],…. after he rushed to free the trapped worker.

Robin Cooper, prosecuting, said: “He was buried up to his abdomen and felt his left leg break.  More earth then collapsed on him and buried him to above his head.”

According to a press release by HSE on 5 March 2010:

“A Cambridgeshire groundwork contractor, [Anthony John Melvyn Hill], has been fined £3,500 after a worker was buried alive in an excavation collapse. [He]was also ordered to pay costs of £2,000…”

Significantly the media report provides some information about the lives of the both the contractor, Miller, and his employer, Hill.

“Mr Miller still works for Hill’s company, Hill Plant Hire, and a statement from him defending his boss was read out during the case at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard how Hill, who was working several acres away, freed the top half of Mr Miller’s body using a digger before the fire service arrived, potentially saving his life.

Mr Miller said: “If it wasn’t for his skill on the digger, I would not be here today. I am still working for Mr Hill and I will continue to.”

Kevin Jones

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Categories business, construction, executives, government, law, media, OHS, safety, UncategorizedTags , ,

2 thoughts on “Man survives trench collapse, employer fined £3,500”

  1. The point to this exercise is that Mr. Hill may have saved the workers life but was it not he that placed the worker in that position and allowed him to work without safety supervision in an inherently dangerous position. so the value of a life is now 3,500 UK pounds.

    I wonder how much the job was worth and if a surprise work site audit has been carried out since to see if Mr. Hill is complying with his obligations???

    1. Tony

      I thought the media release from HSE was a light fine for a serious near-miss. Looking at the local media provided a refreshing take on the incident through the additional details of the worker\’s rescue and his continuing employment in a company whose actions almost killed him.

      You are right and the successful prosecution by HSE Supports that.

      When I talk with OHS regulators after a prosecution I ask what is the worker, if still alive, doing now. In most circumstances the media people don\’t know because it is not really in their brief to know. As a safety professional and writer, I am looking for the \”where are they now\”s as much as the legal details of the prosecution. Very few articles report on the quality of life after a workplace incident which is a great shame because I see safety management as a continuum from initial employment to retirement with possible problems and solutions on the way. Too many see a prosecution as the end of an issue but it is an event in the continuum.

      Also, and this may suit a separate thread, I am researching an article into the use of \”inherently dangerous\”. This term has been used repeatedly in a recent national scandal. I am not sure that any workplace action is inherently dangerous or whether describing at such is a help or a hindrance. I would value your thoughts, perhaps off-line.


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