24 Feb 2011

HSE clampdown on unsafe construction sites

Over the next week, construction sites across Fife will be visited as part of an intensive inspection initiative aimed at reducing death and injury in one of Britain's most dangerous industries.

During 2009/10, three workers died while working in construction across Scotland, two of them during refurbishment, repair and maintenance activities. There were 68 reported injuries on construction sites in Fife in 2009/10.

Starting on 28th February, Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will be making unannounced visits to refurbishment sites throughout Fife. The focus of the HSE inspectors will be ensuring that sites are managing work at height safely and that they are in good order, as well as checking that the risk of exposure to asbestos is being properly managed.

In a similar campaign last year inspectors visited 276 sites and 376 contractors across Scotland. They issued 82 enforcement notices across 77 sites, and were forced to issue 62 prohibition notices to stop dangerous work - much of it relating to working from height.

HSE Principal Inspector John Blackburn said:

"This will be the fifth year that we have run the inspection initiative across Britain and we anticipate that that there will be examples of both good and bad practice - those where employers are taking all the measures they can to protect their workers and those where safety is way down the list of priorities.

"A lax attitude to health and safety in one of the more dangerous industries is not acceptable, especially when many of the incidents are completely avoidable by taking commonsense actions and precautions. As we've demonstrated in previous years, we will not hesitate to take action if we find poor practice that is putting the lives of workers at risk.

"This year, as part of ensuring risks from asbestos are properly managed, we will also be checking that, where appropriate, asbestos surveys have been carried out prior to any refurbishment work. Many workers believe that, because asbestos has been banned as a building material, it's no longer a threat to them. But that simply isn't true. Any premises built or refurbished before 2000 could contain asbestos."

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

HSE Bulletin No: SCO/019/11
(Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

This initiative is not exclusive to Fife, with similar inspections being carried out across the UK. Nearly one in four of Merseyside's construction sites have already failed safety inspections during the first two days of a month-long initiative. HSE inspectors carried out checks at 88 sites during intensive inspections in the county on 14 and 15 February. A total of 21 sites were found not to meet legally-required health and safety standards.

Several of the sites visited received more than one enforcement notice either stopping work activities immediately or requiring improvements to be made. In total, inspectors issued 22 prohibition and 21 improvement notices, with more than half of the notices relating to unsafe work being carried out at height.

HSE Bulletin No: HSE/NW/02ResultsMerseyside
(Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

HSE initiatives such as these can go a long way to helping raise employee awareness of the potential dangers in the construction industry, hopefully spotting potential problems before an accident occurs. 

One of the areas that the inspectors are looking at is that of equipment safety in the workplace - ensuring that it is correctly installed, inspected and maintained - and that employees are competent to use it. 

The use of the Good to Go Safety system can go a long way to helping meet these requirements. There are a range of equipment inspection systems available from Good to Go Safety for the construction industry which include ladders, scaffolding, forklifts and harnesses amongst the most commonly used. Click here to find out more about the systems which encourage regular checks, provide visual awareness of the findings and produce a complete audit trail of findings for your management records.
16 Feb 2011

New Digital Catalogue launched by Good to Go Safety

The new version of Good to Go Safety's product catalogue is now available to browse online. The catalogue has been updated to include new additions to the range, including our safety checklists for fleet vehicles and fall arrest harnesses. Simply click on the image below to be taken to the digital catalogue where you can flick through the pages to find out more about the range or order the products online.

Our website will also be updated this week to include information relating to our new products. If you would like to receive a printed copy of of the new brochure please send a request to enquiries@goodtogosafety.co.uk quoting your name and company details.

Good to Go Safety is an innovative SEMS (Safe Equipment Management System) which encourages employees to carry our pre-use inspections of workplace equipment to ensure they are safe and fit for purpose. A tag is attached to the equipment to provide a clear visual indication of when the equipment was checked and its findings - displaying when it is 'good to go' or 'do not use'. A duplicate copy of each completed checklist is automatically generated for management records. Visit our new digital catalogue for more information about the range. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Checklists available for a wide range of applications including: forklifts, scaffold towers, ladders, racking, fleet vehicles, scaffolding, MEWPs and harness
4 Feb 2011

South Yorkshire glazing firm fined after fall from unsafe scaffold

A South Yorkshire glazing firm has been sentenced after an employee was hurt when he fell more than ten feet from an unsafe scaffold.

Phillip Pears, then 20, broke his wrist in the incident while replacing fascias for Premier Security Glazing Ltd at a house in York in June 2009.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Mr Pears, another colleague, and Premier's managing director had erected two tower scaffolds ten feet apart. Wooden boards were then spaced across the gaps to make one extended platform from which to work. There were no handrails on the scaffolds or the boards.

Mr Pears climbed a ladder leaning against the scaffold and stepped onto an unsecured board which had been used in erecting the tower. The board slipped and he fell 3.5 metres to the pavement below, fracturing his wrist and bruising his back.

York Magistrates Court heard that Mr Pears had not been trained in the safe use of tower scaffolds, but was regularly expected to use them.

The court heard Mexborough-based Premier Security Glazing Ltd had employed a risk adviser some months before the incident. It had even received a health and safety audit on its systems of work, including recommendations for safe working at height and the correct use of tower scaffolds. However, the company had not implemented these recommendations.

The firm of Marriot Road, Swinton, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of their employees and was fined £2,500 with £2,644.90 costs

HSE Inspector Sarah Lee said:

"The dangers of working from poorly-erected tower scaffolds are well known and are responsible for many injuries each year. Had the company followed widely-available guidance from HSE, the manufacturer's instructions, or the findings of the company's own safety audit then this incident could have been easily prevented."

"Companies must realise that it is not acceptable to expect their employees to use work equipment without the proper training. Mr. Pears has made a full recovery but so often these types of incidents have fatal consequences."

In 2008/2009 more than 4,000 major injuries were caused by falls from height at work.

HSE Bulletin No: YH/15 /11
(Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)


The fact that the company had gone to the expense of employing a risk assessor and received recommendations on how to work at height safely makes this incident even more preventable. Good to Go Safety can provide tagging and inspection systems for scaffold towers which can help ensure that the tower is safe for use. The main problem in this case however appears to be the lack of training on how to use a scaffold tower safely in the first instance. Once trained, a competent person would be able to carry out a pre-use inspection of the tower using the Good to Go Safety system - click here for details - and help prevent incidents like this from happening in the future.
3 Feb 2011

Businessman prosecuted after worker breaks back in fall from faulty ladder

A Lancashire businessman has been sentenced after one of his employees broke his back when he fell off a ladder.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Michael Wilson following the incident at Roadferry Transport Yard on Carr Lane in Farington, Leyland, on 3 March 2010.

South Ribble Magistrates' Court in Leyland heard that the man, who has asked not to be named, had climbed up a ladder at the commercial vehicle garage to reach the release mechanism for a lorry cab. The employee fell to the ground when the ladder slipped, causing him to break a vertebrae in his spine. He is still unable to return to work, nearly a year after the incident.

The HSE investigation found the ladder had missing feet at both ends, the bottom rung was damaged and it appeared to have been cut off at the top.

Michael Wilson, trading as M Wilson Commercials, admitted breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) by failing to make sure the ladder was well maintained. He was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £2,000 on 2 February 2011.

Matt Lea, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:

"One of Mr Wilson's employees was badly injured because he was given an unsafe ladder to use. It should have been checked in advance to make sure it was suitable.

"The employee had not received any training on working at height or with ladders, despite regularly needing to do it as part of his job. He therefore simply used the nearest available ladder.

"Sadly, this worker is just one of hundreds of people who are injured every year as a result of falling from ladders. Falling a short distance can still result in someone being seriously injured."

On average, 12 people a year die after falling from ladders in British workplaces, and more than 1,200 suffer major injuries.

HSE Bulletin No: HSE/NW/78Wilson
(Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

The use of our Good to Go Safety system could have prevented this accident from happening. Our ladder tag and ladder checklist can help ensure a pre-use inspection is made - checking that feet are in place, rungs are not damaged or missing etc. These basic checks would probably have prevented this accident from happening - in addition a duplicate copy of each completed checklist would provide clear evidence that a safe equipment management system (SEMS) was in place. Good to Go Safety helps employers to comply with PUWER and WAHR regulations and provides employees with peace of mind that the equipment they are using is 'good to go'. Click here for more information about our ladder inspection systems.
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