HSE clamps down on refubisment sites

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The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) Chief Inspector of Construction is challenging the refurbishment industry to act now and protect their workers, after 46 per cent of sites fell below standards during a recent inspection initiative.

HSE targeted small refurbishment sites during the month long drive and 692 enforcement notices and 983 notifications of contravention had to be served where there was a material breach of health and/or safety. Inspectors had to deal with immediate risks, such as work at height*, and also to deal with sites where workers were being exposed to silica dust and asbestos, which cause long term health problems.

Man risks falling from roof
Man risks falling from roof

Health and safety breaches were also followed up with clients and designers, reinforcing their duties under the Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM) 2015 and help them understand their responsibilities.

Despite the high rate of enforcement action, the inspectors found a number of examples of good practice*.

Peter Baker, Health and Safety Executive’s Chief Inspector of Construction said:

“It is disappointing that some small refurbishment sites are still cutting corners and not properly protecting their workers. Falls from height are the most common killer in the industry but we still found workers put at risk to save minutes on the job – believing it wouldn’t happen to them.

“The mis-conception that health issues cannot be controlled is simply not true and ruining people’s lives. Harmful dust, whether silica or wood, is a serious issue and can be managed effectively with the right design, equipment and training. Health effects may not be immediate but the ultimate impact on workers and their families can be devastating. Each week 100 construction workers die from occupational.”

“HSE inspectors found lots of good examples of small sites carrying out work safely, proving it can be done. Larger construction sites accepted the challenge a few years ago and have made big improvements, which all of the industry can learn from. My message to smaller businesses is don’t wait for an accident or visit from an inspector before you make the change, but act now and learn from your colleagues’ example.”