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Inspections demonstrate no safety improvement in the domestic basement market

More than a third of domestic basement projects in London failed unannounced safety checks by the Health and Safety Executive, demonstrating that there has been no improvement in the market since similar checks were carried out two years ago.

HSE said that the two-day clampdown involved checking 107 construction sites in three London boroughs and resulted in enforcement action against 36 of the sites.

In total 41 prohibition notices were served calling for an immediate stop to the dangerous practices observed and a further 21 improvement notices were also handed out.

According to the HSE, the poorest standards were observed in firms that were previously unknown to the inspectors.

The main failings reported involved poor planning, failure to appoint a competent temporary works engineer to design propping and support and lack of edge protection around open excavations.

“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,” said HSE City and South West London Construction Division principal inspector Andrew Beal.

“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.”

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