Safety Failures Found At Many Building Sites
THE Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found failures at nearly half of sites it inspected during just one month. Enforcement action was required at 644 sites to protect workers.
HSE visited 2,607 sites and served 539 prohibition notices which ordered workers to stop work immediately. Over 1,100 sites failed basic safety standards.
The HSE blitz was aimed at refurbishment or repair work sites, primarily being carried out by SMEs, where unsafe practices were seen to be taking place.
HSE inspectors found basic safety standards not being met on 1,105 sites. On 644 sites, practices were so poor that enforcement action was necessary to protect workers.
A total of 539 prohibition notices were served ordering dangerous activities to stop immediately and 414 improvement notices issued requiring standards to improve.
Common problems identified included failing to protect workers working at height, exposure to harmful dust and not having adequate welfare facilities.
Inspectors arrived at the sites unannounced to ensure workers were managing high-risk activity.
They were also looking for good site order, sound structures and basic welfare facilities.
Chief inspector of construction at the HSE Heather Bryant said that when poor practice was found, it ‘often was due to a lack of understanding’. She added: ‘It is disappointing that we are still seeing nearly 50% of sites which need to be served with enforcement notices.
‘We are targeting areas of highest risk, so I expect that most of the sites would benefit from our attention.’
Where there were safety failures, follow-up visits would be made.
On the industry’s approach to safety, Ms Bryant said: ‘The Olympics construction showed people what it looks like when you get it right on safety issues.
‘I think there’s a pride within the industry of people wanting to get it right, and more willingness to work with each other and look out across other industries where they have learned similar lessons.’
Working at height was again one of the main issues highlighted, after concerns were raised over a dramatic increase in the number of accidents resulting from falls from height.
Asked if workers needed to be more vigilant and if companies were ignoring risks, she said: ‘It has to be a joint effort. You must have individuals on site who are aware of the risks and know what they have to do personally to comply.
‘Health is a hidden killer and it continues to be an issue in construction. For example, we see companies going into old properties and not carrying out asbestos surveys, and leaving their people exposed to the dangers.’
She commented that 59% of fatalities in 2012/13 occurred on refurbishment sites, many of which were operated by SMEs and had fewer than 15 people on site. These accounted for 75% of fatalities.
n Fee for intervention: A total of 312 queries regarding fees for intervention (FFI) have been made by contractors across all industries to the HSE since its inception. The FFI scheme charges contractors who break health & safety laws for inspections and investigations.
Since FFI was introduced in October 2012, there have been five invoice runs. The HSE has issued invoices totalling £5.53m, of which 36%, or just under £2m, has been in construction.
Out of the 312 queries, 285 have been resolved and 30% of cases resulted in the invoice being either cancelled or amended.
This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.