Prison for uninsured builder who failed to report amputation accident

While Simon Lewis was operating an excavator clearing a site for a new build house, the excavator tipped and trapped his leg. It resulted in his leg being amputated.

But the incident only came to light when Simon Lewis complained to the Health & Safety Executive eight months later. Paul Adams, trading as Surrey Conversions of Sutton Common Road, Sutton, who was in charge of the site, had not reported the incident.

There was no health & safety related documentation and there was no employer’s insurance cover for Simon Lewis to claim against.

Paul Adams had never obtained any health & safety related training during his 50 years in the construction industry.

Now he has been sentenced to 24-weeks in custody and has been ordered to pay costs of £2,033 by Westminster Magistrates.

When he appeared before the Magistrates on 6 May he pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 3(1) of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases & Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) that was not able to start until eight months after the unreported incident found that Simon Lewis had no formal training for operating excavators. He had requested a 3-ton excavator to carry out the site clearance work but was provided with a 1.7-ton vehicle that he was put under pressure to use.

The incident that resulted in the amputation of his leg was not reported to the HSE within 10 days as required nor was it investigated by Paul Adams. HSE was only able to start an investigation more than eight months later when the victim complained. By this time crucial evidence relating to the cause of the incident was unobtainable.

There was no health & safety-related documentation and there was no employer’s insurance for Simon Lewis to claim against.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers said: “This case reinforces how important it is that incidents are reported so they can be investigated and improvements made to prevent serious incidents in future.

“The judge noted Mr Adams had not reported the incident even when prompted to by a solicitor, and that despite his construction experience he had failed to take any interest in understanding his legal duties nor invest in health & safety.

“Mr Adams claimed in court that he had stopped working for months due to the impact of the incident. However, the evidence showed he had continued with the work.

“The judge commented on how distressing it must have been for Mr Lewis on top of his life changing injury to know the incident was not being investigated.

“We went to great efforts to ensure Mr Adams made improvements. However, in court it was confirmed that although he had told the probation officer he had stopped work, he was still carrying out construction work at an unidentified site despite failing a health and safety test.”