Construction companies fined after failing to carry out basement excavation work safely

Two London based construction companies were prosecuted after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection identified serious safety breaches on a double basement construction project.basement safety failings

Westminster Magistrates Court heard that emergency services had been called to a property at Bathurst Mews, London, where excavation work to form a double basement was being carried out. They rescued a labourer with a broken arm and reported their concerns about the dangerous site to the Health and safety Executive (HSE).

The HSE inspection found, 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. The inspector immediately shut down the site. The investigation by HSE found 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 28 Church Road, Stanmore, HA7 4XR 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 39 Wimborne Avenue, Hayes, UB4 0HQ 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”.

Phoenix Comments:

“The key aspects of the CDM Regulations 2015 is to improve health and safety by careful planning of the project, including managing the risks from the start to finish, cooperation and coordinate with stakeholders and communicating effectively the risk. This includes anticipating temporary works and ensuring a structure exists to risk assess dynamic changes. Hazards associated with excavation work can include collapse of excavation, falling materials and falls into excavation, which are so well documented. Even with the support and advice of a consultant to highlight the foreseeable hazards, no action was taken, which has contributed towards aggravated factors within the prosecution”.