Safety initiative finds almost half of construction sites unsafe

Extensive inspections carried out by the Health and Safety Executive have found that 40% of UK construction sites are failing to protect their workers. Poor standards and dangerous practices were found at 691 of the 1748 repair and refurbishment sites visited, with standards on 1 in 5 sites so poor that they were given enforcement orders.

The HSE are now urging construction sites across the UK to improve their safety measures after the disappointing findings.

The HSE’s chief of construction says that “a significant part of the industry is seriously failing its workers,” and that well known and straightforward safety measures are not being implemented.

During a month of checks, half of the 106 sites that were visited in the North-East were found to have unacceptable standard of working conditions and dangerous practices.

The focus of the inspections was the assessment of health risks. 35 per cent of the enforcement actions served were related to asbestos, failure to control exposure to harmful dust, noise and vibration, or poor welfare.

They found the issues related to health to be particularly worrying. Health risks of which the effects are not immediately visible were particularly likely to have been overlooked – the effects of exposure to dusts such as asbestos and silica for example are not apparent at first. The consequences are irreversible however, but can be prevented with protective equipment and effective dust suppression methods.

The HSE emphasise that simple and straightforward management and planning could have prevented the health and safety issues they discovered.

Frank O’Connor, Director at Macks commented “In recent years I believe there has been an improvement in health and safety on construction sites but we still see the results of some serious breaches of straightforward safety measures often resulting in serious injury”.

Source: HSE

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