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London council had been “repeatedly warned” about open inspection pit

A London council has been found guilty of breaching s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act after a woman fell into a vehicle inspection pit.

London council had been “repeatedly warned” about open inspection pit
Image credit: ©Jeff Blackler/REX/Shutterstock

The accident happened in the south-east London borough of Lewisham at the Wearside Service Centre, which provides local businesses with commercial waste and recycling services. 

Southwark Crown Court was told the woman fell and struck her head while work was being carried out on the premises. 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Lewisham council had disregarded recommendations from an independent safety and health consultant to put guards around or over the inspection pits.  

It had also ignored HSE guidance on preventing falls into pits. 

The London Borough of Lewisham was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £65,000 on 11 January. 

HSE inspector Ian Shearring said: “[The council] had been repeatedly warned of the risk and what they needed to do, and have been held to account for failing to take adequate action to protect the safety of persons visiting their site.”


Keeley Downey was the former assistant editor of IOSH Magazine. Previously she was editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine


  • I really do think that in

    Permalink Submitted by Shabbir Halai on 19 January 2018 - 12:40 pm

    I really do think that in these case - where a Local Authority ignores its' own H&S duties, that a responsible person should also be held to account and fined exactly the same amount. Maybe then, heads of departments will start to take notice of clear advice given to them. What a shame that, in effect, the local taxpayers have to stump up this money.

  • I have informed my local

    Permalink Submitted by James01 on 19 January 2018 - 11:43 pm

    I have informed my local authority, on numerous occasions since 5th November 2017, and had a meeting with two council officials, regarding hazardous pedestrian access and pedestrian/vehicle segregation, and the associated risks. At the meeting (22.12.2017), I was informed the issues were above their jurisdiction and would be forwarded to the relevant persons. I have received no response and the hazards remain. In the event of an accident, fatal or otherwise, I shall be forwarding all my correspondence and photographs to the HSE.

  • There is a solution to

    Permalink Submitted by Stefano Quarena on 25 September 2018 - 11:07 am

    There is a solution to guarantee safety on the inspection pits.
    We are the manufacturing company and we have a patent for the product, selling it worldwide.
    ASP Pit Cover system




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