HSE inspectors are to launch an intensive inspection initiative aimed at stopping dangerous practices on building sites across Great Britain.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) wants to raise awareness of construction site risks and prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths.

Construction is one of Britain’s most dangerous industries. During 2008/09, 53 workers died and 11 264 were injured, across Great Britain, while working in construction.

The inspection initiative – starting on 1 March – will focus on refurbishment or roofing work. Inspectors will make unannounced visits to ensure that sites are managing work at height safely and are in good order.

Philip White, HSE’s Chief Inspector of Construction said:

“Each year too many construction workers are needlessly injured or killed while working on site. While some sectors of the industry have made real improvements in recent years, we are really concerned about standards in the refurbishment sector, particularly on small projects.

“HSE does not think a lax attitude to health and safety in one of the more dangerous industries is acceptable, especially when many of the incidents are completely avoidable by taking commonsense actions and precautions.

“This is the third year running we have run initiatives like this and, after these latest inspections, we hope that we can report back that we have found good practice and safely operating sites.

“However, if we find poor practice that is putting the lives of workers and, in some cases the public, at risk we will take action; this could include closing sites and prosecuting those responsible.”

Last year inspectors visited 1759 sites and 2145 contractors and were forced to issue more than 270 prohibition notices to stop dangerous work – much of it relating to working from height.

Background Brief:

  1. During the inspection initiative, HSE inspectors will be looking at whether:
    • Jobs that involve working at height have been identified and properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions are in place
    • Equipment is correctly installed / assembled, inspected and maintained and used properly
    • Sites are well organised, to avoid trips and falls
    • Walkways and stairs are free from obstructions
    • Work areas are clear of unnecessary materials and waste
  2. Falls from height remains one of the most common causes of fatalities and major injuries in the construction sector in Great Britain, with more than five incidents recorded every day.
  3. Simple mistakes shatter lives. Information on how to avoid slips, trips and falls from height in the construction industry http://www.hse.gov.uk/shatteredlives/industry-construction.htm[1]
  4. Further information on the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007 http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/cdm.htm[2]
  5. Further information on falls and trips in the construction industry http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/tripsandfalls/index.htm