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HSE prosecutes basement contractor

Basement contractor Darma was ordered to pay a £13,000 fine yesterday by Westminster Magistrates court after an unannounced inspection from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found dangerous conditions on a basement excavation site. 

The fine follows an investigation launched after the inspection of the site on Filmer Road in Fulham in November 2013, which formed part of a clampdown on poor safety conditions on basement projects.

According to the HSE, 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 4m in depth that were not properly supported.

Westminster Magistrates court heard that the basement excavation under existing buildings posed significant dangers. Darma was reported to have failed to appoint a temporary works engineer, given clear and competent site management or adequate shoring and propping of all excavations, which put workers at risk of death.

The company was 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 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.”

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