Trench collapse death

Posted: Wednesday 13th July 2011

A site foreman has been fined after a labourer in his team was killed when a trench collapsed.

Graeme Scott, 30, from Dunfermline, was part of a team working for Cameron and Stevenson (Scotland) Ltd, a company that is now in liquidation. He was walking along the side of a 3-metre-deep trench dug to replace a sewer in Cranhill Park, Glasgow, on 3 April 2008 when it collapsed beneath him and he fell into the trench. He began to make his way out but as he did so part of the trench wall collapsed on top of him.

Mr Scott's colleagues made frantic attempts to dig him out, and when emergency services arrived on scene they continued these efforts. But when Mr Scott was found, there were no signs of life and he was pronounced dead at the scene. A post mortem examination established that he had died of chest injury and probable suffocation.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation established that there was no edge protection to the trench and that the sides of the trench had not been supported to make them safe. HSE inspectors also found that even though trench boxes were available on site to help keep workers safe, they had not been using them.

The HSE investigation found that Mr Parry, as foreman, had put himself and his colleagues at risk by not using the safety measures his employers had told him to use.

After the case, HSE inspector Graeme McMinn said:

"If Mr Parry had taken the simple precautions he had been instructed to take, then Graeme Scott would be alive today.

"No measures were taken to prevent the trench collapsing or to stop workers falling in to the trench despite appropriate equipment being readily available on site.

"Mr Parry was working as the foreman and was properly trained in the right way to do trench work. The team had been told at the beginning of the job to use trench boxes to protect themselves. Although the team's employers should have supervised them more closely, as foreman Mr Parry had a duty to take reasonable care of the safety of his team."

William Parry, 33, of High Valleyfield, Fife, pleaded guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court to breaching Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974, and was fined 240




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