Domestic Basement Projects Failed Safety Checks

3 mins

Posted on 03 Apr 2015

Almost half of domestic basement projects across three London boroughs failed unannounced safety checks during a two-day initiative in March.

An inspection initiative undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) involved a team of inspectors visiting 127 sites across Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and parts of Westminster.

Enforcement action was taken at 62 of those sites – an overall rate of 48% – with:

  • 44 Prohibition Notices served requiring dangerous practices to stop with immediate effect 
  • 12 Improvement Notices served requiring safety improvements to be made 
  • 63 Notifications of Contravention served identifying material breaches.

At two projects, conditions were so dangerous that inspectors were forced to close the sites. 

More than two thirds of the Prohibition Notices served dealt with the risk of workers falling from height, either into unguarded excavations or through unprotected floor openings, as well as unshored excavations. Inadequate welfare provision accounted for half of the Improvement Notices.

Domestic basement projects are technically challenging and carry substantial risks. Common issues found during the inspections were:

  • Work not properly planned
  • Failure to appoint a competent temporary works engineer to design suitable propping to support excavations and existing structures
  • Poor or absent welfare facilities for workers
  • Basic precautions missing, such as edge protection to prevent falls from height, especially into excavations
  • Unguarded conveyor belts.


The CDM regulations have changed. As a result all construction projects coming within the CDM regulations must adhere to all new changes and existing requirements. 

  • Ensure your project team have a safe system of work in place including risk assessments for all work activities both generic and project site specific
  • Ensure all plant and equipment is maintained according to legal mandatory and manufacturers' requirements
  • Ensure there is an inspection programme in place for the use of all plant and equipment before use
  • Ensure that there are completed COSHH risk assessments in place for all hazardous substances 
  • Ensure that there are suitable welfare facilities in place for all workers including but not limited to toilets, hot and cold running water and drinking water
  • Ensure that there is safe system of work in place for all work at height work activities including edge protection and trench support
  • Ensure all workers are competent and receive instruction, information and training and where necessary supervision
  • Ensure that the project has access to competent health and safety advice.
  • Doyle Clayton can support your business with providing health and safety advice, support with construction site work. Please contact Sally Beck for further information.

    The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.

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