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Chief Inspector challenges small construction sites to act now to manage workers health and safety

Date:
12 November 2015

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) Chief Inspector of Construction is challenging the refurbishment industry to act now and protect their workers, after 46 per cent of sites fell below standards during a recent inspection initiative.

HSE targeted small refurbishment sites during the month long drive and 692 enforcement notices and 983 notifications of contravention had to be served where there was a material breach of health and/or safety. Inspectors had to deal with immediate risks, such as work at height*, and also to deal with sites where workers were being exposed to silica dust and asbestos, which cause long term health problems.

Health and safety breaches were also followed up with clients and designers, reinforcing their duties under the Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM) 2015 and help them understand their responsibilities.

Despite the high rate of enforcement action, the inspectors found a number of examples of good practice*.

Peter Baker, Health and Safety Executive’s Chief Inspector of Construction said: “It is disappointing that some small refurbishment sites are still cutting corners and not properly protecting their workers. Falls from height are the most common killer in the industry but we still found workers put at risk to save minutes on the job – believing it wouldn’t happen to them.

“The mis-conception that health issues cannot be controlled is simply not true and ruining people’s lives. Harmful dust, whether silica or wood, is a serious issue and can be managed effectively with the right design, equipment and training. Health effects may not be immediate but the ultimate impact on workers and their families can be devastating. Each week 100 construction workers die from occupational disease.”

“HSE inspectors found lots of good examples of small sites carrying out work safely, proving it can be done. Larger construction sites accepted the challenge a few years ago and have made big improvements, which all of the industry can learn from. My message to smaller businesses is don’t wait for an accident or visit from an inspector before you make the change, but act now and learn from your colleagues’ example.”

*photos available

Notes to editors:

  1. Health and Safety Executive construction inspectors visited 1908 sites and inspected more than 2381 contractors. In total 2274 individual inspections were carried out.
  2. Photos available:
  • Photo 1 – Man working on roof protection from falling
  • Photo 2 – GOOD practice when working at height
  • Photo 3 – GOOD practice when working at height – painting
  • Photo 4 – Large quantities of dust from cutting bricks
  • Photo 5 – Poor work at height access to roof

 

  1. Across Great Britain:
  Total
Total No. of sites 1908
Total no. of inspections (N.B there can be more than one inspection per site) 2274
Prohibition notices 432
health 52
Safety 380
Improvement notices 260
 health 152
 Safety 108
Notifications of contravention 983

 

  1. Inspections and results broken down by operational region:

 

Scotland, Yorkshire and North East Total
Total No. of sites 518
Total no. of inspections (N.B there can be more than one inspection per site) – 601
Prohibition notices 90
%health 11%
% Safety 89%
Improvement notices 24
% health 75%
% Safety 25%
Notifications of contravention 209

 

   North West Total
Total No. of sites 208
Total no. of inspections (N.B there can be more than one inspection per site) – 312
Prohibition notices 51
%health 14%
% Safety 86%
Improvement notices 47
% health 47%
% Safety 53%
Notifications of contravention 117

 

Midlands, Wales and South West Total
Total No. of sites 815
Total no. of inspections (N.B there can be more than one inspection per site) – 971
Prohibition notices 165
%health 13%
% Safety 87%
Improvement notices 136
% health 57%
% Safety 43%
Notifications of contravention 461

 

London and East South East Total
Total No. of sites 367
Total no. of inspections (N.B there can be more than one inspection per site) – 390
Prohibition notices 126
%health 10%
% Safety 90%
Improvement notices 53
% health 66%
% Safety 34%
Notifications of contravention 196

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