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National clampdown targets construction industry’s poor health record

Date:
22 September 2014

‘Health as well as safety’ will be the message as poor standards and unsafe work on Britain’s building sites are targeted as part of a nationwide drive aimed at reducing ill health, death and injury in the industry.

During the month long initiative, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will carry out unannounced visits to sites where refurbishment projects or repair works are underway.

From today (22 September), HSE Inspectors will ensure high-risk activities particularly those affecting the health of workers, are being properly managed. These include working with harmful dusts such as silica and asbestos, and other hazardous substances. If unacceptable standards are found Inspectors will take immediate enforcement action.

HSE is urging industry to ‘think health’ as over 30,000 construction workers are made ill by their work every year.

Philip White, HSE Chief Inspector of Construction, said:

“Industry has made much progress in reducing the number of people killed and injured in its activities, but for every fatal accident, approximately 100 construction workers die from a work-related cancer[1] 

During the recent health initiative, enforcement action was taken on one in six sites.  Time and again we find smaller contractors working on refurbishment and repair work failing to protect their workers through a lack of awareness and poor control of risks.

This isn’t acceptable – it costs lives, and we will take strong and robust action where we find poor practice and risky behaviour.

Through campaigns like this we aim to ensure contractors take all risks to their workers seriously, and not just focus on immediate safety implications. They need to put in place practical measures to keep workers both safe and well”

Further information about the Initiative, results of previous campaigns and safe-working in construction can be found online at:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/Construction/campaigns/safersites/index.htm

[1]It is estimated that for every fatal accident in 2012-13, approximately 100 construction workers died from a work-related cancer

Notes to editors

1.  The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk

2.   During inspections, HSE inspectors will consider whether:

  • risks to health from exposure to dust such as silica are being controlled.
  • workers are aware of where they may find asbestos, and what to do if they find it
  • other health risks, such as exposure to noise and vibration, manual handling, hazardous substances are being properly managed
  • jobs that involve working at height have been identified and properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions, such as proper support of structures, are in place
  • equipment is correctly installed / assembled, inspected and maintained and used properly
  • sites are well organised, to avoid trips and falls, walkways and stairs are free from obstructions and welfare facilities are adequate

3.   Further HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press

 

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