Contractor handed suspended sentence after workers pictured barefoot on site

A builder has been given a suspended prison sentence for allowing unsafe excavation work, which put workers in danger and rendered a neighbouring property unstable.

Between 2019 and 2020 Mustapha Matib employed several groundworkers to excavate land at a site in Greater Manchester in preparation for the construction of a domestic dwelling. An inspection was carried out at the site in August 2020 after neighbours raised significant concerns, work was stopped when serious fall risks and potential collapse were identified.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court was told that Matib failed to prepare a construction phase plan, with risk assessments and method statements detailing how the work would be safely carried out. He also failed to appoint a site manager with suitable skills, knowledge and experience to plan, manage and monitor the work; and ensure the health, safety, and welfare of those carrying out the work or others who may be affected by their actions.

Health and Safety Executive investigators also identified a large, deep and unprotected excavation, which gave rise to a foreseeable fall risk. In addition, excavations were not shored or suitably battered back to prevent the risk of collapse.

Personal protective equipment had not been provided and some workers were working barefoot on site. The site was not adequately secured to prevent unauthorised persons from entering and a neighbouring property had been undermined with parts of the property at risk of collapse due to the excavation work.

Mustapha Matib admitted breaching regulations 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. He was sentenced to 16 weeks' imprisonment suspended for 12 months, ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and pay costs of £5,673.

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