HSE to visit construction sites

Date: 10 February 2011 Over the next month, construction sites across the country will be visited as part of an intensive inspection initiative aimed at reducing death and injury in one of Britain’s most dangerous industries. During 2009/10, 42 workers died while working in construction, nationally, and nearly three quarters of these occurred during refurbishment, repair and maintenance activities. These will be the main focus of the latest inspections by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). On the unannounced visits – starting on 14 February – the inspectors will ensure that sites are managing work at height safely and that they are in good order, as well as checking that the risk of exposure to asbestos is being properly managed. Last year inspectors visited 2014 sites and 2414 contractors. They were forced to issue more than 350 prohibition notices to stop dangerous work – much of it relating to working from height. Philip White, HSE’s Chief Inspector of Construction, said: “This will be the fifth year that we have run the inspection initiative across Britain and we anticipate that that there will be examples of both good and bad practice – those where employers are taking all the measures they can to protect their workers and those where safety is way down the list of priorities. “A lax attitude to health and safety in one of the more dangerous industries is not acceptable, especially when many of the incidents are completely avoidable by taking commonsense actions and precautions. As we’ve demonstrated in previous years, we will not hesitate to take action if we find poor practice that is putting the lives of workers at risk. “This year, as part of ensuring risks from asbestos are properly managed, we will also be checking that, where appropriate, asbestos surveys have been carried out prior to any refurbishment work. Many workers believe that, because asbestos has been banned as a building material, it’s no longer a threat to them. But that simply isn’t true. Any premises built or refurbished before 2000 could contain asbestos.” During the inspection initiative, HSE inspectors will be looking at whether: Jobs that involve working at height have been identified and properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions are in place Equipment is correctly installed / assembled, inspected and maintained and used properly Sites are well organised, to avoid trips and falls Walkways and stairs are free from obstructions Work areas are clear of unnecessary materials and waste Falls from height remains one of the most common causes of fatalities and major injuries in the construction sector in Great Britain, with more than five incidents recorded every day. Further information on the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007 [1] Further information on falls and trips in the construction industry [2] Further information on asbestos can be found