October 22, 2013
Following the extensive enforcement action it took against construction sites in March, the latest Health and Safety Executive ‘swoop’ on refurbishment projects in September found that more than 42 percent of them failed the subsequent inspection. During the month, HSE inspectors paid unannounced visits to 2,607 construction sites where refurbishment or repair work was taking place and reported that 1,100 of them failed the safety checks. On 644 of the sites, practices were deemed so poor that enforcement action was taken to protect workers. More seriously, 539 prohibition notices were served to put an immediate end to dangerous activities and inspectors issued 414 improvement notices requiring standards to improve.
The most common problems were the familiar ones of failing to protect people working at height, exposure to harmful dust and a failure to provide inadequate welfare facilities.
HSE chief inspector of construction Heather Bryant said: “It is disappointing to find a significant number of sites falling below acceptable health and safety standards, where our inspectors encountered poor practice this often went hand in hand with a lack of understanding. Through initiatives like this we are able to tackle underlying issues before they become established and we will continue to work with the industry in an effort to drive up standards. However those who recklessly endanger the health and lives of their workforce can expect to face tough consequences.”