Prosecution for wall collapse highlights the danger of digging under houses

house collapse

The house following its partial collapse as the result of excavations under its foundations.

A prosecution by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) of a building contractor whose digging under a house led to the partial collapse of it, is a reminder to those involved in digging cellars and swimming pools under people's houses of the risks involved.

On 20 December Manchester Crown Court heard how a company called Iproject Cheshire Ltd had been carrying out refurbishment works on a building in Didsbury, Manchester, that involved digging under the foundations of the house. Part of the house collapsed. There were no injuries or fatalities, but clearly the collapse potentially presented a risk to life.

An investigation by the HSE following the incident, which happened on 14 August 2019, found that the company had failed to plan the work properly and carry it out safely.

A risk assessment into the excavations had not been undertaken and there was no safe system of work in place. Neither was there sufficient supervision.

Iproject Cheshire Ltd of Park Lane, Poynton, Stockport, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The company was fined £31,500 and ordered to pay costs of £13,500.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector David Argument said: “This was a very serious incident and it is fortunate that nobody was injured as a result of it.

“This incident could have been prevented if the company had carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment prior to commencing work on the excavations and by properly supervising the work.”