Kettering Hospital Trust Fined Almost £500,000 After Man Suffers Brain Injury in Manhole Collapse

A hospital trust has incurred a fine of nearly half a million pounds after an employee was discovered unconscious at the bottom of a manhole.

The individual suffered acute sulphate intoxication, leading to a traumatic brain injury and persistent issues with memory loss and nerve damage.

Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has been fined £480,000 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The worker was inside the manhole, clearing a drain at the hospital on 1 February 2022, when colleagues found him.

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service rescued him, and he received treatment at the hospital for acute sulphate intoxication.

The HSE inspector, Heather Campbell, remarked, “This case underscores the hazards of working in confined spaces. The manhole should have been recognised as a confined space and subjected to appropriate risk assessment. Safe procedures for entering confined spaces, as outlined in the HSE’s Approved Code of Practice, should have been in place.”

An investigation by the HSE revealed that Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust failed to identify the manhole as a confined space and neglected to conduct a proper risk assessment for the task.

The trust allowed employees to enter confined spaces at the site, a practice that had been in place for several years.

Furthermore, the trust did not establish a safe system of work or a method statement for unblocking drains, and no precautions were taken to mitigate the risk of injury, according to the HSE.

The investigation also highlighted the absence of confined space training for members of the estates team. Additionally, inadequate information and instruction were provided to those involved regarding suitable methods, associated risks, and precautions when clearing drains and entering deep drains or manholes.

Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust admitted to violating Section 2(1) of The Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The trust received a fine of £480,000 and was directed to pay £4,286.15 in costs at Wellingborough Magistrates’ Court.