HSE is urging the construction industry to ensure basic health and safety measures are in place after a month long inspection initiative found 40 per cent of sites failing to properly protect workers.
Unacceptable conditions and dangerous practices were found at nearly half of the 1,748 repair and refurbishment sites visited by HSE inspectors, with 1 in 5 sites so poor, formal enforcement action was required. Many of the issues found could have been easily prevented with simple, straightforward management and planning.
It seems inconceivable that these businesses do not know what is required of them in terms of health & safety and that’s why the HSE has focussed on the refurbishment sector again and again. This HSE initiative focussed on health risks and 35 per cent of the notices served were for issues such as management of asbestos, failure to control exposure to harmful dusts, noise and vibration, and insufficient welfare.
However the HSE also found failures to provide basic safety measures for people working at height; the area that continues to remain as the most dangerous activity in construction. This was the most common issue found by Inspectors with 42 per cent of all enforcement notices served for this activity.
The HSE’s Chief of Construction commented that in the refurbishment sector a significant part of the industry is seriously failing its workers.
It is clear that not properly planning working at height continues to be a major issue, despite well-known safety measures being straightforward to implement. What the inspectors found was unacceptable and they had to order work to stop immediately on over 200 occasions because of dangerous practices.
Clearly we can all at times overlook things that may present risks but when an activity presents such risks as working at height does it’s important to have the right precautions in place. When it goes wrong the outcome is often very serious and the impact on workers and the business are life changing. Isn’t it time to check our risk assessments and carry out regular safety checks to ensure short cuts are not being taken?