'One In Three' Welsh Construction Sites Unsafe

Almost A Third Of Construction Sites Across Wales Are Unsafe, According To The HSE

11.11.2013

A new spot-checking programme by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in Wales has found that many Welsh construction sites are failing to meet standards.

Of the 127 sites visited in September 2013, 40 did not meet basic guidelines expected around issues including work at height and risk assessments. This represents almost one in three projects surveyed, according to the BBC.

Inspectors at the HSE were disappointed to find there had been no improvement in the results since the previous April and this could be putting workers at risk of serious injury or even death.

However, despite this, the number of deaths at sites in England, Scotland and Wales have all dropped dramatically recently. 39 people were killed on construction sites between April 2012 and March 2013 - down from 48 the year before.

Nick Blundell, regional secretary of UCATT Wales and South West, told BBC Wales: "As the construction industry emerges from recession and workloads increase there is a strong likelihood that deaths and injuries will increase unless urgent action is taken now to improve construction safety."

News of this inspection drive follows a similar effort by the HSE across other areas of the UK.

Investigators travelled to 2,607 sites where refurbishment or repair work were taking place and it was found that basic standards were not being met at 1,105 locations.

In fact, safety at some projects was so poor that prohibition notices had to be served requiring dangerous activities to stop immediately or risk prosecution.

Heather Bryant, the HSE's chief inspector of construction, commented that it was highly disappointing to find that so many workers were not being protected from basic hazards, including heights and exposure to dust.

"Those who recklessly endanger the health and lives of their workforce can expect to face tough consequences," Ms Bryant added.

Inspectors from the HSE will now resume their normal duties, but another nationwide drive may take place in the coming months in order to monitor standards.

Expert Opinion
The construction industry is a high risk sector where workers can face serious harm or death if health and safety regulations are not adhered to, so it is hugely concerning to see that a third of sites in Wales which were visited really are not meeting the necessary standards.

"Health and safety has to be a fundamental priority in the workplace but time and time again HSE stats show that a number of companies continue to disregard the responsibilities they have towards their workers – placing them at major risk of serious injury or even death.

"All aspects of work should be assessed for potential risks, while employers need to ensure their workers are trained and supervised to perform the tasks asked of them. This is quite often a matter of life and death and, as such, it is imperative an improvement is seen in the next round of inspections carried out by HSE."
Stephen Nye, Partner