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Portaloo firm employee suffered fall from height into sewage well

22nd November 2012

The man had been working on a building site where housing was being constructed, when the incident took place.

A sewage well on the development site had become blocked, and the employee was tasked with clearing the obstruction.

To do this he removed the grating from the top of the well and fed a pump hose into it. The hose was attached to a road tanker, but he was required to stand next to the opening of the well to support and guide the equipment during its operation.

While the pump was active it recoiled suddenly, striking the worker and causing him to fall into the well.

Despite keeping hold of the pump and using it to break his fall, he was stuck in the well for 20 minutes before he realised that he had his mobile phone with him and was able to call for aid.

Furthermore, during the fall from height he sustained friction burns from sliding down the pipe, bruising to his head, elbows, and legs, as well as ingesting raw sewage. He was off work for several days following the incident.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation discovered that although the man had been trained to use the pumping equipment, he had not been instructed in how to work safely at height.

The portaloo company was fined £15,000 for failing to protect employees from suffering a fall from height accident, and ordered to pay court costs of £3,000.

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