During a national initiative to improve the safety of construction sites in the UK, nearly one in five construction sites failed safety checks, which is actually a slight improvement on the years previously. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors went to 3237 sites and saw 4080 contractors. However, it was discovered that 581 sites put workers at risk with unsafe work practices – 870 enforcement notices were issued and work was immediately put to a halt in 603 instances.
The Chief Inspector of Construction, Philip White, had this to say on the matter –
“It is encouraging that inspectors found a slight improvement in standards and small construction firms are taking safety seriously when carrying out refurbishment work.
“But this is just a snapshot, and the number of notices served for unsafe work at height is still unacceptable, particularly when the safety measures are well-known and straightforward to implement.
“Too many contractors continue to put their own or other people’s lives at risk and we will not hesitate to take action where standards are not met.”
The HSE inspectors focused on construction sites where refurbishment or repair work was being performed. This was all in conjunction with an annual, month-long drive across Britain. Its aim is to reduce the risk of death, injury and ill health within the construction industry. High-risk activity, for instance, working at height, was being focused on while the inspectors also sought to ensure that sites were clean and tidy with clear access routes.
One of the most common causes of deaths and major injury in the construction industry is falling from a height. It is also responsible for the largest proportion of enforcement notices issued by the HSE at 49%. However this is still an improvement than in previous years, for example, it was 55% in 2010.