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Safety warnings renewed after labourer loses leg

HEALTH & SAFETY Executive officials renewed warnings this week about the dangers of working in excavations when an 18 year old labourer lost his leg after being entombed on a Leeds building site.

The labourer, Jed Christie, had been laying drainage pipes when the trench - thought to have been up to 6m deep - in which he was working collapsed. He survived, despite soil filling the trench, as a large boulder of clay wedged above his head and allowed the top half of his body to remain free.

The fire brigade took four hours to reach Christie but was unable to free his legs for another seven hours. Although taken straight to hospital, doctors were forced to amputate his left leg. His condition on Tuesday morning was described as 'stable and progressing'.

Work on the large industrial unit development has now been stopped. Rawdon Fire Station commander, Station Officer Richard Moxon, explained: 'The trench did not appear to be propped in any way and the excavated material was placed right up to the edge of the trench.' He added that the trench had collapsed all the way along its length.

Health & Safety legislation requires that any excavation deeper than 1.2m in which persons work should be shored or battered back to 45.

The principal inspector heading HSE's investigation David Dean warned: 'We haven't got any clear facts yet. But the incident gives a warning to the industry of the hidden dangers of entering an excavation.'

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