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Basement Initiative leads to prosecution for London construction firm

Date:
28 May 2015

London construction company Darma Limited has been fined over £13,000 after an unannounced inspection from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found dangerous conditions on a basement excavation site. 

The inspection of the site on Filmer Road in Fulham was carried out during a clampdown on poor safety conditions on basement projects in November 2013. 

The inspection found workers were being exposed to extremely dangerous conditions on the site, being made to work in and around deep excavations of up to four metres in depth that were not properly supported.

Westminster Magistrates court heard that basement excavation under existing buildings poses significant dangers and safe systems of work must be in place at all times. These include the appointment of a temporary works engineer, clear and competent site management and adequate shoring and propping of all excavations.  Darma Limited failed in its duty to provide any of these measures – putting workers at risk of death.

The company were fined £13,400 and ordered to pay £4,719 in costs after admitting a breach of Regulation 31(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Dominic Long said: “Conditions on this site were appalling with deep unsupported excavations throughout the basement. This not only put the large number of operatives in the basement at risk of death but could also have led to the collapse of the building itself.

“Darma Limited showed scant regard for the safety of the workers they were responsible for, it was extremely fortunate no-one was seriously injured or killed.

“HSE will take robust action against any company or individual putting lives at risk. This prosecution along with the level of fine demonstrates that companies willing to disregard the safety of workers should expect to face severe consequences.”

More on HSE’s most recent basement initiative can be found here: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2015/one-in-two-basement-sites-in-top-london-boroughs-fails-safety-inspections/

 Editors Notes:

  1. The Health and Safty Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Regulation 31(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 states: All practicable steps shall be taken, where necessary to prevent danger to any person, including, where  necessary, the provision of supports or battering,to ensure that—(a) any excavation or part of an excavation does not collapse; (b) no material from a side or roof of, or adjacent to, any excavation is dislodged or falls; and (c) no person is buried or trapped in an excavation by material which is dislodged or falls.
  3. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press.

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