HSE Launches National Clampdown on Poor Construction Site Safety this September

September marks the start of a national clampdown by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of Britain’s building sites as part of an initiative targeting poor construction site safety.

The HSE’s month long initiative, which started on 2 September, will see inspectors carrying out unannounced checks at sites where refurbishment projects or repair work is taking place. The inspectors will look to ensure high risk activities, such as working at height and work that could result in exposure to harmful dusts, are being properly managed. They will also be checking that basic welfare facilities are being provided. The initiative will run until 27 September.

With construction workers remaining close to four times more likely to be killed at work compared to the average worker, the campaign aims to reinforce the HSE’s message that poor risk management and a lack of awareness of responsibilities are not only unacceptable, but can cost lives.

 “One of the HSE’s goals in campaigns like this is to raise awareness about risks and help companies understand the practical measures they need to take to protect their workers,” Russell Barnard, Product Manager at SG World said. “In many instances putting in place simple procedures, like a permit to work system for high risk activities or pre-use inspection for equipment, not only helps organisations to comply with health and safety legislation but also supports the ultimate goal of keeping their employees safe at work.”

SG World manufactures a range of health and safety compliance products, including permits to work for high risk activities targeted in the current HSE campaign like the working at height permit to work. The company also has a range of inspection checklists designed for industries like construction. These include the Safe-SCAFF scaffolding inspection checklist, ladder inspection checklists and MEWP inspection books, all of which display equipment inspection status clearly with a hi-vis inspection indicator.

During the HSE’s previous construction inspection initiative from 18 February – 15 March 2013, the HSE issued enforcement notices to almost one in every five sites visited. The HSE saw a total of 2363 sites. Of those visits HSE inspectors issued 433 sites with 631 enforcement notices.

The HSE intends for this construction initiative to demonstrate that the organisation will use the enforcement tools at its disposal to prevent immediate risk and bring about sustained improvements to the industry.

“This initiative provides a chance to engage with these firms to help them understand what they need to do, so they can put in place the practical measures needed to keep people safe,” Heather Bryant, HSE Chief Inspector of Construction, said. “However, let me be clear - if we find evidence that workers are being unnecessarily and irresponsibly put at risk we will not hesitate to take robust action. Companies who deliberately cut corners can expect to feel the full weight of the law.”

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