Basement jobs fail safety checks
Extending houses downwards by digging out the cellar is all the rage in London, but it seems that many of these extensions are being carried out by cowboys.
Nearly one in three domestic basement projects across four London boroughs has failed health and safety spot checks.
A Health & Safety Executive (HSE) blitz on 19 June saw a team of inspectors visit 59 construction sites across Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster, Camden and Haringey.
Enforcement action was taken at 17 of those sites, with 20 prohibition notices requiring dangerous practices to stop immediately, and six improvement notices requiring safety improvements to be made.
More than half of the prohibition notices related to unsafe work at height and a fifth dealt with inadequate temporary works, such as propping, shuttering and other forms of support. Training and welfare concerns accounted for the majority of the improvement notices.
Andrew Beal, principal inspector for HSE's construction division in the City and southwest London commented: "Construction remains one of Britain's most dangerous industries and fatal incidents across London have shown how devastating domestic basement collapses can be. Workers have also been seriously injured in excavations which have caved in or by buildings collapsing above them.
"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 projects are technically challenging and carry substantial risks. Common issues found during the inspections were:
- Work was not properly planned
- Failure to appoint a competent engineer to design suitable propping to support excavations and existing structures
- Poor or lack of welfare facilities for workers
- Basic precautions were missing, such as edge protection to prevent falls from height
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This article was published on 28/06/2012 (last updated on 29/06/2012).