48% of basement ‘digdowns’ that were inspected by the HSE in March 2015 have failed to meet health and safety standards – Enforcement action was taken at 62 of the sites, with 44 prohibition notices and 12 improvement notices served.
At two construction sites, conditions were so dangerous that inspectors closed them down immediately.
Over and intense 2 day inspection, the Health and Safety Executive sent inspectors to 127 homes in Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and parts of Westminster.
With a growing trend for increasingly expansive basement extensions, and so called ‘iceberg homes’, corners are quite obviously being cut in safety standards.
Following a similar inspection drive in 2014, the HSE took enforcement action against one in three of the 107 sites visited, showing how far standards have slipped in a year.
Most worryingly, the inspections followed a number of fatal incidents, as well as serious injuries, in the capital in recent years relating to basement excavation projects. Over the last 10 years, HSE has received reports of the deaths of 17 construction workers as a result of an excavation collapsing, while in the same period 27 were seriously injured.
James Hickman, the Lead HSE inspector for the construction division in the City and south-west London, warned that domestic basement projects were technically-challenging and carried substantial risks.
“These enforcement figures reflect the rapidly-increasing number of companies entering the basement industry to meet the current high demand for basement living space in London”, he said. “Those new to basement construction work are often unaware of the risks associated with the technically challenging nature of the work or of the standards required to ensure the safety of their workforce.”
The HSE work closely with the Construction industry to regulate and ensure that UK Health & Safety standards are upheld.