One-third of domestic basement projects 'breach health and safety'
29 June 2012
Posted by Samuel Couratin
Almost one-third of domestic basement construction projects across London were found to be in breach of health and safety regulations during a day of spot checks in June.
The assessments, carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), saw inspectors visit 59 sites in four London boroughs - Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Camden and Haringey.
Officials from the HSE took enforcement action at 17 of these sites, with six improvement notices handed out and 20 prohibition notices issued forcing work to cease with immediate effect until the problems were rectified.
Unsafe work at height - a common safety concern in the construction industry - accounted for half of the prohibition notices. Last year, 50 workers in the sector died on construction sites, with work at height the most common factor in these incidents.
Meanwhile, inadequate temporary works such as shuttering, propping and other forms of support were the cause of one-fifth of the prohibition notices.
The bulk of the improvement notices were served over concerns about training and welfare.
Inspectors discovered that work was often not properly planned, while other common issues included the absence of basic precautions such as edge protection and the failure to appoint a competent engineer to design suitable propping. Welfare conditions were also said to be poor or lacking in many instances.
Andrew Beal, Principal Inspector for HSE's construction division in the City and south-west London, said fatal incidents across the capital have illustrated how dangerous domestic basement collapses can be.
"Workers have also been seriously injured in excavations which have caved in or by buildings collapsing above them," he commented.
"We've found similar failings across various sites and we will continue to clamp down 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."