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A construction company has been fined over the death of an 83-year-old man who walked onto an unsecured construction site in the Scottish town of Kirkcaldy and fell into a flooded excavation. The victim, who was named as John Philbin, had the onset of dementia.

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court was told that on 7 January 2015 Philbin was able to access the Chapel Level residential development, for which Sandford Park Ltd was the principal contractor, because the fencing that surrounded it was not completely enclosed. Philbin fell into the excavation that had flooded with rainwater and drowned. He also had a cardiac arrest but it is not known whether it occurred before or after he fell into the trench.
No one was working at the site when the accident happened, as it had been closed due to bad weather. A ground worker discovered Philbin’s body the next day when he pumped water from the flooded trench.

An HSE investigation found that Sandford Park Ltd had failed to install the appropriate level of fencing around the site to prevent members of the public accessing the construction site. After the accident, the company erected fencing from Heras UK Fencing Systems around the entire perimeter of the site.

On 26 May Sandford Park Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching reg 22(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 for failing its duties as the principal contractor and was fined £110,000.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Gillian Anderson said: “This tragic incident could have been prevented had the company installed a continuous fence around the site.”

Source – IOSH Magazine

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