The HSE has run a number of month long inspection initiatives across various areas of the country and the message clearly coming back is that, on average, one in four is failing to achieve suitable compliance levels.
In London it was found that a total of 93 of the 401 sites failed to meet the minimum legal standards for health and safety. In the East of England a total of 17 of the 71 sites they inspected were found not to meet the minimum legal standards for health and safety, and 18 enforcement notices were issued as a result. Many of the sites immediately had prohibition notices served and work was ceased on-site. In fact, in London, 114 prohibition notices and 22 improvement notices were served.
Clearly, this level of non-compliance is going to have a major impact on the businesses involved and for all it is likely that Fee for Intervention notices will also have been served. Ouch! – this is going to be very costly for those caught out and for the HSE it will clearly show the benefits of positive intervention (and of course raise a significant amount of revenue – that may well go towards further inspection initiatives).
The HSE inspectors targeted sites where refurbishment or repair work was taking place, to support a drive to improve standards in what is still one of Britain’s most dangerous industries. The problem is that there really are still too many rouge builders operating; many who ignore health & safety to try to save on costs. This invariably means that the companies that do things safely find they are not competing on a level playing field; we often hear this from the clients we advise and work with.
The HSE made these unannounced visits to ensure that all companies that are managing high-risk activity, such as working at height – are working safely. The inspectors also checked for general good order, assessed welfare facilities and checked whether personal protective equipment, such as head protection, was being used appropriately.
The HSE has said that the purpose of the initiative is to remind those working in the industry that poor standards are unacceptable and could result in enforcement action. We believe this is a good thing and that it is important that such inspection blitzes should continue; only then will construction businesses that look after their employees and others be fully rewarded for their approach.