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Construction safety in the spotlight

Health and safety in the construction industry has recently come under the spotlight after a nationwide campaign by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found an alarming number of sites were failing to meet basic safety standards.

Many sites visited by the HSE

The campaign involved HSE inspectors visiting 2,607 sites across the UK where refurbishment or repair work was being carried out. They looked at whether:

  • jobs that involved working at height were identified and properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions, such as proper support of structures, are in place,
  • quipment was correctly installed / assembled, inspected and maintained and used properly,
  • proper monitoring and control arrangements to prevent unnecessary exposure to harmful dusts were in place,
  • sites were well organised, to avoid trips and falls, walkways and stairs free from obstructions, and
  • work areas were clear of unnecessary materials and waste and welfare facilities were adequate.

Safety standards found to be inadequate

During their visits, inspectors found insufficient safety standards on almost half (1,105) sites, and on 644 sites work was being carried out in such an unsafe manner than enforcement action had to be taken to protect workers. As a result, HSE inspectors were forced to serve 539 prohibition notices ordering dangerous activities to stop immediately, and 414 improvement notices requiring standards to improve.

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