A COMPANY has been fined £15k after a worker fell and slid seven metres into sewage well in Halesowen.

The worker from Walsall was clearing a blockage for Tardis Environmental UK Ltd at a partially completed housing development when the incident happened last August.

He was clearing the sewage well when a hose kicked back and hit him, causing him to fall into the chamber.

The 34-year-old, who has asked not to be named, ingested raw sewage, sustained friction burns to his arms and bruised his elbows, knees and head in the fall. He was off work for days.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found the Tardis employee had not been trained in how to empty deep, below-ground sewage wells with regard to the risks involved with working at height.

Tardis Environmental UK Ltd, of Fryers Road, Leamore, Bloxwich, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at Dudley Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday November 14. The company was fined £15k and ordered to pay £3k costs.

The firm had been called to the housing development because a pump at the bottom of the sewage well had become blocked with waste including nappies.

To remove the waste the employee used a tanker with a pump and hose attachments. He opened a grid at the top of the well and stood over it to manipulate the hose.

As he did the hose kicked back and hit him, causing him to lose balance.

He managed to grab the hose as he fell and slid down it into the waste where he stood disorientated for around twenty minutes before he realised he had his mobile phone with him and called for help.

After the hearing HSE inspector Anthony Woodward said: “Reasonable precautions to prevent a fall should have been provided by the company, such as a worker’s restraint or harness.”

He went on: “If he had not have grabbed onto the hose to slow his fall, he might even have been killed.

“It was an extremely unpleasant experience that he should have been protected from.”