The HSE finally got fed-up with main contractor Kubik Homes and subcontractor Bellway Developments and hauled them before the courts following a string of site visits.
The final straw for inspectors was when Kubik Homes workers were seen breaching a prohibition notice while they were on site.
City of London Magistrates’ Court heard about a string of bad practices including:
No safe access to the first floor under construction at the St Mary’s Road site. Instead, there was a makeshift ‘staircase’ formed from a bag of sand and piles of blocks, leading to the roof of a hut.
The first floor was accessed from the hut roof via wooden planks, spanning the gap between them. There was no edge protection to prevent falls.
A wooden gangway built to provide access to the first floor was inadequate.
A 2.5 metre-deep excavation had no precautions taken to prevent people falling into it or the sides of the excavation collapsing in on anyone working within it.
Work areas around the site were uneven, littered with obstructions and trip hazards.
Welfare facilities on-site were also extremely poor. The toilet was filthy and had a leaking cold water supply.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE’s inspector Loraine Charles said: “Although there was no incident, the potential danger to the workers was very high.
“Conditions on this site were simply appalling. This is a shocking example of bad management of a construction site and it is a miracle that no one was injured.
“Both these companies failed to understand the nature of their duties under health and safety law and failed to sufficiently improve conditions on the site despite repeated interventions by the HSE.”
Kubik Homes Ltd, of High Street, Wimbledon, pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,426.50.
Bellway Developments Ltd, of Coniston Road, Bromley, Kent, also pleaded guilty and was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,384.50.