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Tardis fined £15,000 after worker falls into sewage well

  • 23 November 2012
  • By Roger Brown

Tardis Environmental UK has been fined £15,000, after a worker cleaning a blockage using a road tanker with pump and hose attachments fell and slid seven metres into sewage well in Halesowen.

In a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution, Dudley Magistrates’ Court was told how the 34-year-old from Walsall, who does not want to be named, was working for the Bloxwich, West Midlands-based company at a partially completed housing development in August 2011.

A pump at the bottom of the sewage well had stopped working because it had become blocked with “rag” – a bulky waste material.

The employee opened a grid at the top of the well and stood over it to support and manipulate the hose. As he did the hose kicked back and hit him, causing him to lose balance and fall into the chamber.

The man managed to grab the hose as he fell and slid down it into the waste at the bottom where he stood disorientated for around twenty minutes, before he realised he had his mobile phone with him and was able to call for help.

He ingested raw sewage, sustained friction burns to his arms, and bruised his elbows, knees and head in the fall.

Tardis pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was also ordered to pay £3,000 in costs.

Although the man had been trained in the use of the pumping equipment, reasonable precautions to prevent a fall should have been provided by the company, such as a worker’s restraint or harness.


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