Poor standards and unsafe work on Britain’s building sites will be targeted as part of a nationwide drive aimed at reducing death, injury and ill health in the industry.
During the month long initiative, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will carry out unannounced checks at sites where refurbishment projects or repair works are underway.
From today (2 September), inspectors will visit construction sites to ensure high-risk activities, such as working at height, and work which could result in exposure to harmful dusts, are being properly managed. They will also that check that basic welfare facilities, such as toilets and handwashing facilities, have been provided if they are needed.
Despite a welcome reduction in the number of people killed in 2012/13, construction workers remain nearly four times more likely to be killed at work than the average worker. An estimated 70,000 builders are currently suffering ill health as a result of their work.
The campaign aims to drive home the message to those working in the industry that poor risk management and a lack of awareness of responsibilities are not only unacceptable, but can cost lives.
Heather Bryant, HSE Chief Inspector of Construction, said: “Too many people die or are seriously injured every year on Britain’s construction sites as a result of entirely avoidable incidents. Just as importantly, workers are unnecessarily being exposed to serious health risks, such as asbestos or silica dust, which can have fatal or debilitating consequences. Often we find it is smaller companies working on refurbishment and repair work who are failing to protect their workers through a lack of awareness and poor control of risks.
“This initiative provides a chance to engage with these firms to help them understand what they need to do, so they can put in place the practical measures needed to keep people safe. However, let me be clear – if we find evidence that workers are being unnecessarily and irresponsibly put at risk we will not hesitate to take robust action. Companies who deliberately cut corners can expect to feel the full weight of the law.”
Further information about the Initiative and safe-working in construction can be found online at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/campaigns/safersites/index.htm