Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building


Grenfell: Harley PM acknowledges ‘sloppy’ workmanship

23 September 2020
Ben Bailey

Cladding subcontractor Harley Curtain Wall’s project manager on the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower has acknowledged that some of the firm’s workmanship was “sloppy” and that there may have been a “better way” of inspecting the works.

Ben Bailey, who was 25 at the time of the work, was shown a photograph during yesterday’s Grenfell Tower Inquiry hearing of a horizontal cavity barrier installed in the vertical orientation (below). It had also been installed with an intumescent strip facing into the building.

Bailey said he regarded the work as “sloppy” but argued: “I don’t think its performance is negatively affected on those by virtue of its orientation.”

Bailey was shown this photo of the external of Flat 13 at Grenfell Tower

Asked by lead counsel to the Inquiry Richard Millett QC why he hadn’t noticed workmanship like that, Bailey replied: “I think it partly…could have been insulation around that point of the wall at the time that covered the intumescent strip from view.”

Millett asked: “If it was covered up, do you accept that that’s because you weren’t inspecting regularly enough?”

Bailey said: “Equally it’s possible that it was done at the same time…The insulation was installed directly after the cavity barrier.”

Millett asked: “Is it fair to say that you ought to have been conducting inspections at each stage of the installation, in other words after the cavity barriers were installed but before the installation of the insulation and then again after the insulation but before the rainscreen?”

Bailey said: “In hindsight, in reflection, you know, given some of the issues pointed out, that may well have been a better way of doing it.”

And he agreed that if he were unable to spot these instances of sloppy workmanship because the insulation obscured them, that would also apply to the building control officer and clerk or works. But he added: “Maybe not Rydon, who were there a lot more often”.

Millett asked if that meant Bailey was expecting Rydon to perform step-by-step, layer-by-layer inspections of Harley’s own installers.

Bailey said: “I think there was some discussion of them doing that when Daniel Osgood [a Rydon site manager] was on site.”

Millett interjected: “Well, Daniel Osgood says in his statement that he didn’t have any direct involvement with the installation that was done by Harley and he only checked it in the way he’s described, which isn’t a more thorough check than you were doing, if I can summarise it that way.”

Millett went on to ask Bailey: “Would you agree that ultimately the responsibility fell to Harley to ensure that its façade installation was undertaken to a professional standard?”

Bailey said: “I think it’s a collective responsibility falling on Harley, Rydon, the clerk of works, CDM co-ordinator.”

The Inquiry continues.