Two construction companies were prosecuted after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection found serious safety breaches on a double basement construction project.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that emergency services had been called to a property on Bathurst Mews, London, – where the excavation to create the double basement was being carried out – to rescue a labourer with a broken arm. The emergency services raised their concerns about the dangerous site to HSE.
At the inspection, they found that workers were at risk of falling into deep excavations and there were no propping arrangements in place to ensure the stability of the excavations or the building. The HSE inspector immediately shut down the site.
The same concerns had been raised by an independent consultant a few months before the inspection, HSE found. Their 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 of its directors as the site manager. Neither company appointed a competent person to inspect the excavations to ensure they were safe.
Lifehouse (London) Ltd, Stanmore, 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, Hayes, pleaded guilty to breaching CDM regulation 15(2) and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,067.10.
HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers said 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.”