HSE Focus on Building Site Accidents and Safety

1,105 sites were highlighted as failing to meet the minimum requirements for worker safety in a crackdown on unsafe work practices by the Health & Safety Executive

More than 1,100 sites fail safety checks

Over one thousand construction sites in the UK were found to have serious safety failings in recent checks by the HSE.

A recent clampdown on improper health and safety practices at construction sites across the UK has seen the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) find fault with works at more than 1,100 premises due to serious failings.

The construction sector is one of the most important to helping drive the UK economy back towards growth, but businesses and individuals employed within the industry also need to remember that it can be one of the most hazardous to worker health.

Following a nationwide campaign by the HSE in September, a total of 2,607 sites where refurbishment of repair work was being carried out were visited by health and safety inspectors without the developer’s prior knowledge.

Out of this figure, a staggering 1,105 sites were highlighted as failing to meet the minimum requirements for worker safety. Furthermore, in 644 cases, the standards were so bad that the HSE had no choice but to issue enforcement action and stop work until the necessary amendments to practices were put in place to safeguard the wellbeing of workers.

Overall, a total of 539 prohibition notices were served, while 414 improvement notices were also issued to developers.

A failure to properly adhere to health and safety standards can have serious consequences for staff in terms of their likelihood to suffer a workplace injury. It is therefore essential that all businesses – not just those operating in the construction sector – take the wellbeing of their staff seriously and comply with all necessary legislation.

Heather Bryant, HSE chief inspector of construction, commented: “It is disappointing to find a significant number of sites falling below acceptable health and safety standards, where our inspectors encountered poor practice this often went hand in hand with a lack of understanding.

“Through initiatives like this we are able to tackle underlying issues before they become established and we will continue to work with the industry in an effort to drive up standards.

“However, those who recklessly endanger the health and lives of their workforce can expect to face tough consequences.”

As part of the crackdown on poor practice, HSE inspectors focused on a number of key areas when carrying out their assessments of site safety.

These included ensuring jobs that required working at height were planned properly and carried out in a manner that did not place workers at undue risk, as well as ensuring all equipment was properly installed, assembled, well maintained and used in the correct manner by staff.

Inspectors also looked at whether work areas were cleaned regularly and that waste materials were disposed of correctly and did not cause a hazard to occupants of a site. Welfare conditions were also assessed, ensuring all members of staff had access to appropriate washing and toilet facilities.

Preventing unnecessary exposure to harmful chemicals, materials or dust was also a top priority during inspections, as well as ensuring sites were managed appropriately, with the removal of all trip hazards, while stairs and walkways were kept free from obstruction.

This recent campaign was the latest in a long line of Safer Sites initiatives that the HSE has been running over recent months, with a similar crackdown carried out by the organisation back in February/March.

A total of 2,363 sites were assessed by HSE staff, with 633 enforcement notices issued to contractors across 433 sites for their poor practices.

In all, 451 prohibition notices were served calling for work to be immediately suspended, with then-HSE chief inspector of construction Philip White stating: “HSE will not hesitate to use its enforcement powers against reckless employers. It is they who continue to make construction one of the most dangerous industries in which to work.”

This drive follows the publication of data from the body, which revealed that in 2011-12, a total of 49 members of staff in the construction profession were killed during the 12-month period, while a further 2,884 serious injuries were reported.


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HSE Focus on Building Site Accidents and Safety
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