Firms fined more than £50,000 after employee was injured in excavation collapse

We recently heard about the details of a sad case which highlighted the potential dangers of excavation works.

Two firms, Auberne Homes Limited and groundworks contractor W & E Lammie, were fined after an employee of W & E Lammie was crushed and severely injured during an excavation collapse.

During a court case a few weeks ago at Ayr Sherriff Court it was revealed that on 20 February 2018, employees of W & E Lammie were carrying out drainage works within an excavation at a construction site at Holmhead Gardens, Cumnock, when a section of the unsupported wall of the excavation collapsed and crushed one of the employees, causing serious injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed W & E Lammie failed to plan the precautions or practicable steps necessary to prevent danger to any person entering the excavation, failed to provide supports or battering to ensure the excavation did not collapse and failed to provide appropriate training and supervision to the employees carrying out the drainage works. The investigation also identified that in their role as principal contractor, Auberne Homes Limited, failed to plan, manage and monitor the drainage works being carried out on their construction project.

W & E Lammie, a now dissolved partnership, having previously had a place of business at Muirkirk Road, Cumnock, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 15(2) of The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and were fined £18,000.

Auberne Homes Limited, of Beresford Court, Ayr, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and were fined £35,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Duncan Officer said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided had the excavation work been properly planned and carried out by suitably trained individuals to ensure that the appropriate safety measures were implemented to prevent excavation collapse. Had the principal contractor carried out suitable checks they could have been identified that those carrying out the work were untrained and that safe working practices were not being followed on site.

“The requirement for control measures and safe working practices during excavation work are well-known in the construction industry. HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those responsible for the excavation works and those in control of the construction site where these required standards are not met.”

We know that it can be difficult for organisations to keep on top of all the health and safety requirements that need to be considered when they are working on construction projects.

This is why one of the key services that we offer is Construction Health and Safety Inspections and Audits.

We provide these inspections and audits for all types of construction sites across the UK and our professional team members have qualifications relating to excavation work.

Using this service really does give clients and contractors peace of mind. Clients and contractors have a responsibility to ensure their projects are undertaken safely. If clients feel their contractors aren’t performing as they should be, or are unsure what their performance is like, we can assist them in completing their projects, without incident or injury, by reporting to them the good and the bad things that are happening at their sites.

Clients remain responsible for various actions as they’ve been deemed to employ competent contractors. The HSE Fee for Intervention scheme can cost £160 per hour for any contraventions or breaches of legislation identified by a site visit by HSE.

A typical letter following a visit by the HSE can cost £1,000. This fee would include time on site, investigation of contraventions and issue of the letter. After that it could increase dependant on the client or contractor response.

We’ve seen in this sad case an example of the size of fines companies can face if they are found to be in breach of health and safety law not to mention what can happen to individuals if they are put at risk on site.

Anyone who employs our services has access to our Health & Safety Consultants whenever they need them and free access to their own live, secure and encrypted, client portal. This provides clients with 24/7 access to their health and safety data and reports.

If you need health and safety advice visit today or contact us at or on 01604 930380.

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