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.


  1. Many and many construction sites have been held with punishments over the last few years with most of them said to be willfully committing these violations of not getting the right training like whmis certification for their workers and safety measures within their workplaces.

  2. Can't ever be too careful when it comes to construction site safety and protecting peoples lives.


Powered by Blogger.