Unsafe basement project excavation work ends up in court

Westminster Magistrates Court have heard that emergency services were called to a property in London, where excavation work to form a double basement was in progress. The services rescued a labourer with a broken arm and reported their concerns about site dangers to HSE.

HSE found workers at risk from falling into deep excavations and no propping arrangements to ensure the stability of excavations or the existing building.

Consultant recommendations ignored

HSE enquiries revealed that an independent health and safety consultant had raised the same concerns a few months previous but the recommendations had been ignored. The contractors involved failed to appoint a competent person to inspect the excavations to ensure they were safe.

Principal Contractor – 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.

Contractor – 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. 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”.