Unsafe basement project excavation work ends up in court
Two construction companies have been fined after an HSE inspection identified serious safety breaches on a double basement construction project.
Westminster Magistrates Court heard that emergency services were called to a property at Bathurst Mews, London, where excavation work to form a double basement was in progress. The services rescued a labourer with a broken arm and reported their concerns about site dangers to HSE.
HSE found that, despite the incident, workers were at risk from falling into deep excavations and there were no propping arrangements to ensure the stability of excavations or the existing building.
Consultant recommendations ignored
The site was “shut down” immediately. HSE enquiries revealed that an independent consultant had raised the same concerns a few months previous but the recommendations had been ignored.
The Principal Contractor Lifehouse (London) Ltd appointed Nu Space Design Ltd as the contractor to carry out the excavation work and one its directors as the site manager. Neither company appointed a competent person to inspect the excavations to ensure they were safe.
- Lifehouse (London) Ltd – of Stanmore pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) and was fined £24,000 and ordered to pay £1,141.50 in costs.
- Nu Space (Design) Ltd – of Hayes, Middx pleaded guilty to breaching CDM Regulation 15(2) and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £1,067.10 in costs.
HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers commented after the hearing:
“Both companies were aware of the dangers on the site following the warnings in a consultant’s report, but they failed to act on the recommendations and a worker was injured.
When carrying out any construction work, whether new build or refurbishments you have to ensure it is done safely. In this case they should have appointed a competent person to carry out regular inspections of the excavations to ensure they did not collapse onto workers or cause the building to become unstable during the work”.