It has been established that almost one in three domestic basement projects taking place in four London boroughs fail health and safety spot checks. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted a day-long inspection initiative on 19 June where a group of inspectors visited 59 construction sites in the areas of Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Camden and Haringey.
20 Prohibition Notices were served at 17 of those sites which ordered that dangerous work practices immediately stop, in addition to six Improvement Notices which ordered that improvements be made to health and safety. More than half of the Prohibition Notices were in relation to unsafe practices for work carried out at a height and a fifth were in relation to temporary works that were inadequate, such as methods of support in the form of propping and shuttering. The majority of the Improvement Notices were in regards to training and welfare concerns.
The HSE constructions division’s Principal Inspector in the City and South West London, Andrew Beal, stated that the construction industry is still one of the most dangerous in Britain and that accidents in basements and collapsing buildings can be devastating and deadly. He then went on to say –
“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.”
Domestic basement construction projects can be significantly risky and be technically challenging. The most common safety issues discovered during the inspection were: when work was planned inadequately, when there was no competent engineer appointed to design suitable propping to support existing structures and excavations, there was few or no welfare facilities for workers, when there were basic precautions missing, such as edge protection to stop workers from falling when working at a height.