Building Sites Aren’t Playgrounds, Warns HSE As Leicester Developers Fined £29,000 After Two Year Old’s Death

As the Easter Holidays approach, the Health and Safety Executive has warned children not to play on building sites.

The message comes after a property developer Virendra Kotak and builder Stephen Patterson were fined a total of £29,000 at Northampton Crown Court on Friday (18 March).

The prosecution, brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Crown Prosecution Service, came after an investigation into the death of a two year old boy on a building site. On 7 July 2003 Declan Elton was playing with friends on a patch of grass near Ranworth Walk, Leicester, when several of the 300kg concrete retaining wall slabs he was playing on, which were to be used for wall units, fell on top him.

At earlier hearings, Stephen Patterson, of Main Street, Awsworth, Nottinghamshire, was found guilty of breaching Regulation 8(5) of the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996, in that he failed to store materials and equipment in such a way as to prevent danger to any person arising from the collapse, overturning or unintentional movement of such materials or equipment. Kotak, of Peebles Way, Leicester, admitted breaching the Regulations 8(5) and 12 of the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996.

Regulation 12 requires that excavations made as part of building work should not be allowed to collapse. Kotak also admitted ignoring a prohibition notice served by HSE on 10 July 2003, which required that no construction work should take place at the site without competent supervision. Speaking after the case, HSE investigating inspector Nick Garner said: “This tragedy is a sobering reminder that construction sites are dangerous places for children, extra care needs to be taken to ensure that sites are secure and that materials and plant are stored safely. “It should have been obvious that children would be tempted to play on the large concrete units left outside a construction site next to homes and a large public play area. Clearly Kotak and Patterson failed in their duty to make the site as safe as possible, but parents and children should also remember that building sites aren’t playgrounds.

“Everyone involved in construction projects including property developers must take proper precautions to protect the public, particularly children, when carrying out their work and storing materials”.

Kotak was fined:

  • £10,000 for breaching Regulation 8(5) of the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996
  • £7,500 for breaching Regulation 12 of the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996
  • £7,500 for ignoring the prohibition notice.
  • He was ordered to pay £3000 costs.

Patterson was fined £4000 for breaching Regulation 8(5) of the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996. The charge of breaching Regulation 12 of the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996 was left to lie on file, and no costs were awarded against him.

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