A national targeted inspection focusing on health risks for construction workers saw enforcement action taken at one in six of hundreds of sites visited.
During a concentrated two-week period of proactive inspections, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) demanded improvements, and in some cases put an immediate stop to work activities, where they fell short of expected standards.
Inspectors focussed on significant health risk issues, such as respiratory risks from dusts containing silica materials, exposure to other hazardous substances such as cement and lead paint, manual handling, noise and vibration.
Final figures have yet to be confirmed, but conditions were so poor in some situations that the work had to be stopped on at least 13 occasions.
A total of 560 sites were visited and enforcement notices were served at 85 of them. Thirteen Prohibition Notices were served (where certain work or practices must be stopped until improvements are made), and 107 Improvement Notices. A total of 239 health-related Notices of Contravention were served at 201 of the sites.
HSE’s Chief Inspector, Heather Bryant, said:
“We recognise the construction sector’s progress in reducing the number of people killed and injured by its activities. But it is clear from these figures that there is an unacceptable toll of ill-health and fatal disease in the industry.
“So, to encourage the industry to treat health issues in the same way as safety, HSE’s inspectors will consolidate the efforts of this initiative throughout the rest of the year by looking at the prevention and control of health risks in construction, alongside their continued assessment of the management of safety risk issues.”
- Businesses or organisations found to be in material breach of health and safety law may have to pay a fee, based on the amount of time the inspector has had to spend identifying the material breach, helping businesses to put it right, investigating and taking enforcement action.
- A material breach is when, in the opinion of the HSE inspector, there is or has been a contravention of health and safety law serious enough to require them to issue notice in writing of that opinion to the duty holder.
- Written notification from an HSE inspector may be by a Notification of Contravention, an improvement or prohibition notice or a prosecution, and must include the following information: the law that the inspector’s opinion relates to, the reasons for their opinion and notification that a fee is payable to HSE.
- A prohibition notice tells the duty holder to stop an activity immediately. An improvement notice specifies remedial action and gives the duty holder a date by which they must complete the action.