Works were stopped and a principle contractor prosecuted after he had supervised unsafe excavation works, which put employees in danger and rendered the neighbouring property unstable. So what actually happened and went wrong?
Between 2019 and 2020 a number of groundworkers had been employed by a principle contractor to excavate land in-preparation for the construction of a family home. Works were stopped when neighbours raised significant concerns about the safety of the workers at risk of serious falls, potential excavation collapse and that the neighbouring property was at risk of collapse due to the works.
HSE Inspectors identified a probable fall risk, as a large, deep and unprotected excavation was on the site, which had not been shored or suitably battered back to prevent collapse and had undermined a neighbouring property. They also found that PPE had not been provided, some workers were even working barefoot and the site had not been adequately secured to prevent unauthorised access.
The principle contractor had failed in his duties to prepare a construction phase plan as well as having a duty of care to ensure the health, safety and welfare if those carrying out the work or others who may be affected by their actions, which was the neighbouring properties.
He was guilty of breaching Regulations 2(1) and 3(1) Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, sentenced to 16 weeks 12-month suspended sentence, ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and pay costs of £5673.00.
The upshot is that HSE Inspectors will “not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against duty holders who fall below the required standards and out lives at risk”.
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