It was reported this week that more than a quarter of construction sites visited in a Northwest region last week failed safety inspections. Health and Safety Executive inspectors carried out checks on around 150 construction sites during days of intensive inspections.
A total of 56 enforcement notices were issued to 42 sites, either stopping work completely and with immediate effect, or enforcing improvements to be made. As a result some construction companies may face prosecution. Nearly half of those enforcement notices concerned unsafe work being carried out at height putting employees and contractors at risk of serious injury or death. Hundreds of construction workers are seriously injured every year because companies don’t treat the safety of their employees as a priority.
The HSE will continue to make unannounced visits to sites, and take enforcement action when necessary, until the seriousness of their message gets across.
Recently released figures from the HSE show there were over 490 serious injuries and one death on construction sites in the Greater Manchester area alone last year. Intensive inspections took place as part of a month-long initiative, aimed at stopping dangerous practices on building sites across Great Britain. The purpose of the visits was to raise awareness of construction site risks and to prevent deaths and injuries in the future. Construction is one of the UK’s most dangerous industries, with at least five deaths and approx 1,339 serious injuries just in the North West during 2008/09.
The national drive by the HSE is aimed predominantly at roofing work. Inspectors are making random visits to sites to ensure safe practices are adhered to, including but not limited to work at height. The correct usage of edge protection guardrail, horizontal safety lines, eyebolts and collective fall prevention must be the number one priority when considering any working at height scenarios, and once completed, annual testing must be scheduled.