The construction industry is being urged to ensure basic health and safety measures are in place after a month long inspection initiative found nearly half of sites are failing to properly protect workers.
The Health and Safety Executive found unacceptable conditions and dangerous practices at 45 per cent of the 156 repair and refurbishment sites visited by inspectors in the North West, with one in four sites so poor that formal enforcement action was required.
Inspectors issued 29 Prohibition Notices, stopping work immediately, and 27 Improvement Notices, requiring changes to working practices, at 41 of the sites they visited.
Many of the issues found could have been easily prevented with simple, straightforward management and planning.
The initiative focused on the management of health and safety risks, such as working at height, temporary work, general housekeeping, failure to control exposure to harmful dusts including silica and asbestos, noise and vibration, and inadequate welfare.
Failure to provide basic safety measures for people working at height was once again the most common issue found by inspectors across Great Britain.
“These results show that whilst the majority of employers in the refurbishment sector are getting it right, a significant part of the industry is seriously failing its workers," said Neil Jamieson, HSE Principal Inspector for Construction in the North West. “The inability to properly plan working at height continues to be a major issue, despite well-known safety measures being straightforward to implement.
“We also find health is often overlooked as its implications are not immediately visible. However, the effects of uncontrolled exposure to deadly dusts such as asbestos and silica can be irreversible.
“We are urging the industry to ensure the most basic of measures, such as protective equipment and dust suppression methods are put in place, to help protect the future health of workers.”
The Health and Safety Executive (www.hse.gov.uk) is Britain's national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health, through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.
• For more on the Safersites campaign, visit: www.hse.gov.uk/construction/campaigns/safersites