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Developer fined after ignoring HSE warnings over collapsing trench

28 Jun 10 An Oldham developer has been fined £2,000 after he ignored two formal safety warnings, putting the lives of local residents at risk.

An Oldham developer has been fined £2,000 after he ignored two formal safety warnings, putting the lives of local residents at risk.

Mahmood Khokhar, 29, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to make an excavation safe in a residential area. The 1.8-metre deep pit had been dug for the foundations of a house extension on Denmark Street in Chadderton.

Trafford Magistrates' Court heard that Khokhar, of Oldham, failed to comply with two Improvement Notices issued by an HSE inspector following a visit to the site on 1 June 2009.

The notices required the excavation to be made safe to stop it collapsing, and fencing to be put up to prevent people from falling in.

Laura Moran, a construction inspector at HSE in Greater Manchester, said: "Khokhar ignored the warnings and advice we gave him about the safety of the site. There was a well-used path and an alley along the side and back of the property so there were plenty of passers-by.

"On one visit, I spotted a child's ball in the bottom of the pit. I dread to think what could have happened if they'd tried to fetch it, as the sides of the trench were starting to collapse."

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Khokhar pleaded guilty to two offences under Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 after failing to comply with the Improvement Notices. He was ordered to pay £1,725 towards the cost of the prosecution in addition to the fine at Trafford Magistrates' Court on 24 June 2010.

Moran added: "We always try to give small companies and self-employed builders advice on health and safety before going down the route of prosecution. But Khokhar failed to meet the 21-day deadline for making improvements to the site.

"When I revisited after the deadline had passed, the trench was unstable and there was no fencing. I gave him another six days to make improvements but he did nothing. We therefore had no choice but to prosecute.

"Developers should take enforcement notices seriously and act on them. If they fail to do so then they're putting lives in danger."

On average, one worker is killed every year as a result of excavations collapsing. Earlier this year, a construction company in the North East was fined £5,000 after a worker was trapped for more than two hours when the trench he was in collapsed.

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