A landscaping services company has been sentenced after a worker was seriously injured when a retaining wall collapsed into a trench.
Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 7 November 2016, an employee of Award-Winning Greenfingers Limited was undertaking groundworks to install a new timber retaining structure in the rear 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 and fell onto the worker, trapping him underneath.
As a result, he sustained a complex fracture to his pelvis which required surgery and he has not been able to return to work since the incident.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company failed to properly plan and manage the installation of the timber structure, and had not put sufficient control measures in place to prevent the collapse of the existing blockwork wall.
Award-Winning Greenfingers Limited 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.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Cain Mitchell said: “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”.