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Wed July 28 2021

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Contractor fined after pedestrian dies in its trench

2 Jul A utilities contractor has to pay out more than £150,000 in fines and costs after a passer-by was found dead in one of its trenches.

M&S Water Services (Utilities) Ltd was excavating a footpath on Devon Road, Luton to access a stop tap that needed replacing. The stop tap could not be reached by hand and so it was left protected by plastic barriers until a deep dig team could attend a few days later.

Luton Crown Court heard that on 28th May 2017, over a bank holiday weekend, a member of the public, Matthew Wilmot, was walking home when he fell into the excavation site. His body was found the next morning.

A Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that suitable and sufficient risk assessment had not been completed. It should have identified the need for secure fencing, back filling or covering as the excavation was to be left unattended for five days and there was no easy alternative route for nearby householders.

M&S Water (Utilities) Ltd of High Town Enterprise Centre in York Street, Luton were found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £50,238.

HSE inspector Alison Ashworth said after the hearing: “This tragic incident could have been avoided if the risks had been properly assessed and simple precautions put in place.”

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