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Clampdown on poor welfare on West Midlands construction sites

Date:
3 February 2014

Poor standards of welfare and unsafe work on building sites in the West Midlands will be targeted this month as part of an annual push to reduce death, injury and ill health in the industry.

During a concentrated drive running in February, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will visit sites across the region, focusing on ill health on construction sites.

This will cover issues such as noise and vibration, manual handling, dermatitis, welfare, and correct use of personal protective equipment and respiratory protective equipment and face-fit testing.

HSE inspectors will make unannounced visits to construction sites across the West Midlands conurbation and in parts of Worcestershire and Warwickshire. They will be checking to ensure high-risk activities, such as work with noisy, vibrating power tools, is being done safely. They will also check welfare facilities on site are adequate, such as having hot, running water available so substances like cement can be washed from the skin to prevent the development of conditions such as dermatitis.

Workers’ protective equipment will also be checked to make sure it’s in good working order and respiratory protection equipment to ensure it’s working and fits the wearer correctly.

Latest figures show construction workers are nearly four times as likely to be killed at work compared to the average worker, and an estimated 70,000 in the industry will today be suffering ill health as a result of their work.

The purpose of the campaign is to drive home the message to those working in the industry that poor risk management and a lack of awareness of responsibilities are not only unacceptable, but can cost lives.

Jo Anderson, HSE Principal Inspector for the West Midlands Construction Division said:

“Too many people die every year on Britain’s construction sites as a result of entirely avoidable incidents but it is just as important to protect workers from the causes of ill health, such as unnecessary exposure to asbestos or silica dust, which can have fatal or debilitating consequences.

“This initiative provides a chance to engage with construction firms to help them understand what they need to do, so they can put in place the practical measures needed to keep people safe. In many cases, simple changes to working practices can make all the difference, and even save lives.

“However, if we find evidence that workers are being unnecessarily and irresponsibly put at risk, we will not hesitate to take robust action. Companies who deliberately cut corners and put their workers or others at risk will feel the full weight of the law.

“Given one in three sites failed a recent clampdown on refurbishment projects in the region, it’s important to keep up momentum and target problem areas such as not providing basic welfare facilities for workers.”

Further information about the initiative and safe-working in construction can be found online at: www.hse.gov.uk/construction

Notes to editors

  1.  During inspections, HSE inspectors will consider whether:
  • Proper monitoring and control arrangements to prevent unnecessary exposure to harmful dusts are in place
  • Work areas are clear of unnecessary materials and waste and welfare facilities are adequate.

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