HSE takes action at one in five sites in latest blitz

Practices were so poor that the month-long random inspection of 1,748 repair and refurbishment sites resulted in 360 sites being issued with enforcement notices. 

In addition, 40% of all sites visited (691) failed health and safety spot-checks, exhibiting poor standards and dangerous practices. Many of the issues uncovered by inspectors could have been easily prevented with simple, straightforward management and planning, said the HSE.

"It is just not acceptable that inspectors had to order work to stop immediately on over 200 occasions because of dangerous practices..."

A total 313 prohibition notices and 235 improvement notices were issued during the crackdown. The focus was on health risks, and 35% of the notices served were for issues such as management of asbestos, failure to control exposure to harmful dusts, noise and vibration, and insufficient welfare.

Failure to provide basic safety measures for people working at height was the most common issue identified, accounting for 42% of enforcement notices, followed by failure to control dust (12%), insufficient welfare (12%), and asbestos (10%).

HSE’s chief of construction, Philip White, said: “These results show that whilst the majority of employers in the refurbishment sector are getting it right, a significant part of the industry is seriously failing its workers. The inability to properly plan working at height continues to be a major issue, despite well-known safety measures being straightforward to implement. It is just not acceptable that inspectors had to order work to stop immediately on over 200 occasions because of dangerous practices.”

He continued: “We also find health is often overlooked as its implications are not immediately visible, however the effects of uncontrolled exposure to deadly dusts such as asbestos and silica can be irreversible. We urge industry to ensure the most basic of measures such as use of protective equipment and dust suppression methods are put in place to help protect the future health of workers. We need to continue to educate industry through initiatives like this and encourage a change in behaviour on small projects where over half the industry’s fatal accidents still occur and many workers become seriously ill.”

Steve Murphy, general secretary of trade union UCATT commented: “These findings are simply appalling. Time after time employers are putting workers in danger. The HSE inspections only touch a tiny fraction of construction sites and most construction workers never see an HSE inspector unless a major accident has occurred.”

He added: “The HSE are uncovering basic and straightforward safety breaches. It is imperative that far greater emphasis is applied to uncovering dangerous construction practices and prosecuting the guilty. Construction employers will never improve safety unless they fear being caught.”

Source: Construction Manager

Post date: 28 Nov 2014

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