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BUILDING COLLAPSE CAUSED BY ADJACENT EXCAVATION

Firm fined over failure to properly plan and consult on works

Astbury Design and Build Ltd has been fined for neglecting “basic construction safety” after excavation work caused the structural collapse of an adjoining property in Wolverhampton in February 2013.  

A foundation trench was excavated too close to foundations of the neighbouring semi-detached house. The occupants were not at home and there were no injuries.

HSE investigators revealed that the owner of the next door property had not been informed of the intention to excavate the trench, or how the work would be carried out “as required under Party Wall Notification laws”.

The neighbour had appointed a party wall consultant regarding the ongoing works and the consultant warned Astbury not to undermine the foundations.

Experienced builder should have known better

Astbury Design and Build Ltd, of Bushbury Road, Wolverhampton, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was today fined £7,500 and ordered to pay costs of £4,500.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Gareth Langston said:

“This was a serious incident that could have easily been prevented had Astbury Design and Build Ltd followed the recognised procedure relating to party walls and detailed the work to the neighbour’s consultant. The consultant would have realised the implications and stopped him. Even so, Mr Astbury is an experienced builder and should have known better in the first place.

The trench should have been dug in metre-long sections, pouring in concrete and waiting until it had set before digging the next section. This would have underpinned and supported the wall of the neighbouring house.

It was extremely fortunate that the occupants were out of the house at the time of the collapse. This could so easily have had much more serious consequences.”

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