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December 19, 2013

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Third of basement projects fail inspections


Over a third of domestic basement projects in three London boroughs failed unannounced safety checks during a two-day clampdown, according to figures from the HSE.
The inspection initiative, which took place on the 20 — 21 November, saw a team of HSE inspectors visit 107 sites across Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster. 
The initiative revealed that enforcement action was taken at 36 of those sites — an overall rate of 34% – with 41 prohibition notices served requiring dangerous practices to stop with immediate effect, and 21 improvement notices served requiring safety improvements to be made.
According to the HSE, the majority of the prohibition notices related to unsafe work at height, with dangerous excavations also an area of concern. Inadequate welfare provision accounted for three quarters of the improvement notices.
The HSE’s lead inspector for the initiative believed that some progress is being made despite the evidence that there is still cause for concern. 
Commenting on the results, Andrew Beal, principal inspector for the HSE’s construction division in the city and south west London, said: “The overall picture is on a par with other targeted inspections of basement work, and we also identified the same kind of problems relating to unsafe work at height and excavations and poor welfare facilities. 
“That suggests the message isn’t getting through, or that there is complacency towards health and safety across this sector of the construction industry. But that isn’t necessarily the case.”
The HSE stated that the results show that contractors who have previously engaged with the HSE in activity of this kind have made improvements — with the poorest standards identified generally among firms who were previously unknown to inspectors.  
“This illustrates that lessons have been learned, and we hope the latest failings that required action will have a similar impact,” Mr Beal added. 

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Bob Kennedy
Bob Kennedy
6 years ago

Given that all of these companies consider themselves as “specialists” how is it then possible to be unaware of the need for TW Engineering requirement?

The design inevitably requires underpinning and often considerable ground support and strutural retention. Yet they appear to believe that this is all done by guess work?

Given the risk of catastrophic consequence, is it not time to tackle this at planning approval stage?

And thereafter Nick anyone not complying?

Fine them double the cost of the TW, that might make them think on?

6 years ago

I believe the lack of proper safety is directly attributable to cost saving – not a lack of knowledge. For example, to provide proper equipment and design costs money. The really annoying fact is that many of these projects are undertaken by companies who work regularly in this field, designers, project mangagement and construction. They flout the law and in particular the CDM Regs. I can guarantee that no or insufficent risk assessments have been done, no asbestos surveys and many other breaches will have existed. These people just laugh at health and safety – I know because I have… Read more »