Several serious risks were identified during a visit by Health & Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors in November 2013 as part of a nationwide campaign focusing on basement construction works.
Westminster Magistrates were told that HSE had found a catalogue of safety failings at the Stach Ltd site that related to the risks of workers falling from heights of between 2m and 5m. Workers were having to climb over edge protection to get onto a ladder to reach basement excavations and to operate the controls for spoil conveyors. They were having to work in an area without barriers or even a safe surface to stand on. Edge protection had been removed to create space to move materials around, leaving an open edge and exposing workers to a potential fall of 5m.
In addition, unnecessary work being carried out over a skip, 2m above passers-by and street traffic, with no means to prevent.
HSE served prohibition notices on three of the specific danger areas, halting any further work until Stach Ltd took measures to resolve the safety issues. Similar prohibition notices had been served on the company for work at the same site only two months before the November inspection.
Stach Ltd of Granville Road, London SW19, was fined £12,500 and ordered to pay £1,698 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Stephron Baker Holmes said: “Although there was no injury that prompted the prosecution, that is more a matter of good fortune rather than good management by Stach Ltd of their building site. The failings identified were numerous and serious, but could have been remedied quite simply. The cost would be modest, but the benefits in terms of potential for saving life and limb are significant.
“The earlier enforcement action ought to have served as a warning to the company that it needed to improve its management of work at height. Instead, workers were again exposed to unacceptable levels of risk.”