The Dangers of Trial Pitting

Article Safety by

Alex Wright

This is Alex Wright.
Alex was a 27 year old experienced geotechnical engineer.
He lost his life on Friday 5th September 2008 when the side of a trial pit collapsed on him.  It took over 24 hours for the rescue team to recover his body.
Alex was simply doing his job.

The legal position ……..

  •  Probability of criminal proceedings against the company
  •  Probability of criminal proceedings against the “manager”

Health & Safety At Work Act 1974 – Section 37 – Offences by the body corporate.
“Where an offence is shown to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to have been attributed to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager……. he, as well as the body corporate, shall be guilty of that offence.”   The penalty may well be a prison sentence

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007

The Act applies to the corporate body and not to individuals of the company. The penalty could be a fine of 5 per cent of average annual turnover during the 3 years prior to sentencing.

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This photograph used to appear on the website of Alex’s Employer.

THIS SHOULD BE SEEN AS A WAKE-UP CALL TO THE GROUND INVESTIGATION INDUSTRY

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This trial pit is 5.5m deep.  What danger do you see in the picture?

How confident are you that your engineers:-

    • see the danger?
    • will not venture close to the edge (or into the pit)?
    • are conversant with your company’s safe working procedures?