A construction company boss has been jailed after a worker was killed in a trench collapse which buried him alive

Swansea Crown Court heard how a company owned by William Ryan Evans was contracted to construct a drainage field comprising of infiltration pipes laid at the bottom of deep trenches. He employed two workers and a subcontractor excavator to undertake the work on a housing site at Longstone Farm, in Pembrokeshire.

Hywel Richards, 54, entered the trench to remove a clump of soil that had fallen into the trench when it collapsed, burying him. He died at the scene.

collage2w3

An HSE investigation into the incident which occurred on 26 June 2012 found that the work was not planned appropriately and the risk assessment was not suitable or sufficient. The workers were not appropriately trained and suitable equipment to a prevent collapse was not provided.

Evans, of Carmarthenshire, was found guilty  of breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was given a six month custodial sentence.

HSE Inspector Phil Nicolle said: “This tragic incident could have been prevented by undertaking a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks, providing the correct equipment or safe working methods to the workers and managing and monitoring the work to ensure it was done safely. Work in excavations needs to be properly planned, managed and monitored to ensure no one enters an excavation deeper than 1.2m without adequate controls in place to prevent a collapse.”

Hywel Richards’ family said: “Dad was an integral part of our family, the glue that kept us all together. Our family was devastated by his sudden death. We have wondered so many times why this has happened to us, we were meant to grow up with Dad as our guide; the man we looked up to and loved so much”.

Guidance on excavation safety from the Health & Safety Executive’s ‘Busy Builder’ series can be found here.