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BASEMENT BLITZ REVEALS POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC RISKS

HSE ongoing inspection of basement projects looks to drive out poor performers

An inspection initiative by HSE construction division on 19 June 2012 involved visits to 59 residential basement projects across the London boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Camden and Haringey.

HSE assess domestic basement projects as “technically-challenging and carrying substantial risks”. The common issues found during the inspections were:

  • Planningwork not properly planned;
  • Temporary works: failure to appoint a competent engineer to design support;
  • Welfare: poor or lack of welfare facilities for workers; and
  • Falls from height: basic precautions missing e.g. edge protection.
Fatal incidents reveal devastating nature of a basement collapse

Inspectors took enforcement action at 17 sites involving 20 prohibition notices stopping dangerous practices with immediate effect and 6 improvement notices requiring longer term improvements. Key findings reported by HSE are:

  • nearly one in three failed health and safety spot checks;
  • majority of prohibitions related to unsafe work at height;
  • fifth of prohibition notices dealt with inadequate temporary works e.g. propping, shuttering and other forms of support; and
  • training and welfare concerns accounted for the majority of the improvement notices.

HSE Principal Construction Inspector Andrew Beal commented:

“Construction remains one of Britain’s most dangerous industries and fatal incidents across London have shown how devastating domestic basement collapses can be. Workers have also been seriously injured in excavations which have caved in or by buildings collapsing above them.

We’ve found similar failings across various sites and we will continue to clampdown on dangerous practices or poor standards until the message gets through. Contractors must properly plan their work and protect their workers from risks such as falls from height or structures collapsing.”

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One Response to “BASEMENT BLITZ REVEALS POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC RISKS”

  1. UNDERPINNING BODY TO LIFT BASEMENT SAFETY | PP Construction Safety News Desk Says:

    […] of basements, particularly retro-fit, there are no clearly defined industry guidelines on their safe construction. As the trade association representing this specialist sector ASUCplus is now producing a best […]