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HSE Campaign Of Construction Site Visits Reveals Rate Of Low Safety Standards.

Construction site in process
17th December 2013
Accident compensation claims originating within the construction industry are a recurring theme. Despite of undoubted improvements in the introduction and enforcement of health and safety measures, the lack of proper risk assessment and task planning still lead to avoidable fatalities, serious injuries and consequently, both major and minor accident claims.

Between 2011 and 2012, a Labour Force Survey estimated rates of new cases of self-reported work-related illness and non-fatal injury with more than a 3 day absence, was 1,500 per 100,000 in the construction industry - a total of total of 111,164 non-fatal injuries 22,433 serious injuries and 49 fatalities reported (HSE).

In 2011, a HSE “unannounced visits” campaign found a quarter of Merseyside's construction sites failed safety inspections during the first two days of that year’s campaign. Of the 88 site visited, 21 sites were found not to meet legally-required health and safety standards.

This year’s month-long site visits by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to more than 400 specific construction industry workplaces between February and March 2013 also found that a quarter of the sites failed health and safety checks.

According to the HSE, most of the of the sites that were visited did comply with legal requirements and compliance procedures. But it was discovered that there is “a sizeable minority sites are letting down the rest of the industry.”

While the HSE inspections were focused on checking correct procedures in known high-risk activities, such as working at height, provision of protective equipment welfare facilities and general ‘good order’, low standards were notable in the following specific areas:

Failures to properly protect workers during construction activities at height.
• Inadequate site management.
• Exposure to dangerous types of dust.
• Inadequate washing facilities.

The HSE had previously stated that, "In many cases simple changes to working practices can make all the difference, and can even save lives. Therefore, if we find evidence that workers are being unnecessarily put at risk we will take strong action...”

As a result, during the campaign of ‘unexpected visits, the HSE inspectors found a total of 93 of the 401 sites did not meet the legal minimum health and safety standards for construction sites. Around 114 Prohibition Notices were served, halting work while amendments were made, and 22 Improvement Notices also issued, which required the site operators to make specific improvements to their working practices.