HSE inspectors visited 109 London sites in a series of raids, issuing 76 enforcement notices

A third of basement construction sites in London were found to be unsafe following a series of raids by safety inspectors this month.

Inspectors visited 109 sites in four London boroughs - Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster and Wandsworth - on 15 and 16 November.

Enforcement action was taken at 40 sites, where 76 notices were served. Four projects were deemed to be so dangerous that inspectors were forced to close the sites.

More than half of the prohibition notices served deal with the risk of workers falling from height, either into unfenced excavations or through unprotected floor openings.

Basement extensions have become more common across the capital as homeowners seek to extend their properties underground, but have raised concerns over safety in many quarters.

London has seen two deaths in the past 12 months resulting from basement construction projects.

As a result of poor standards found during the inspections, the HSE has arranged a free awareness event open to all those involved in basement construction, including contractors, project managers and designers, on 19 January 2012 at Wandsworth town hall.

HSE principal inspector Andrew Beal said: “Safety standards in many basement projects are well short of acceptable, as our inspection initiative shows.

“Companies constructing basements must not be complacent about the risks. We encourage contractors, project managers and designers, to attend our free event in January and learn from those in the industry who are already working safely.”

To reserve a place at the “Building Basements Safety” event, please contact Pauline Storey on 020 7556 2100 or email pauline.storey@hse.gsi.gov.uk