HSE Swoops As Construction Sites Found To Be Unsafe

Inspections Find One In Six UK Sites Pose Dangers


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
A national campaign of inspections of construction sites by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has found that around one in six has elements that pose a danger to those working there.

The HSE has revealed 85 out of the 560 sites it visited were at fault to the extent that enforcement notices were served. Most of these required major improvements but in 13 cases the situation was so bad an immediate halt to work was ordered.

In addition improvement notices were served at 107 sites and a total of 239 notices of contravention were served at 201 different sites.

Among the major health risks reported by HSE inspectors were respiratory hazards from falling dust containing silica, as well as cement, lead paint, manual handling issues and vibration.

Failures to comply with notices issued by the HSE could lead to prosecutions, with this having the potential to aggravate the legal consequences if accidents do occur at persistently non-compliant sites.

HSE's chief inspector Heather Bryant acknowledged that the construction sector has made major progress in reducing risks and boosting health and safety in recent years, but said the inspections showed how far there is to go, not least in the prevention of exposure to dangerous substances that could have long-term detrimental effects to health.

She remarked: "It is clear from these figures that there is an unacceptable toll of ill-health and fatal disease in the industry."

Ms Bryant added: "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."

Figures for workplace accidents in the construction sector for 2012-2013 showed there were 39 fatal accidents, including 12 suffered by self-employed people. While each of these constituted a tragedy, the figures were down from the average over the previous five years of 53 deaths per annum, including 18 self-employed contractors.

Expert Opinion
The number of construction sites where dangers to the health and safety of workers were exposed is very alarming. Employers and site controllers have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment for their employees and contractors working on site and the fact that so many are not is a serious concern.

"In our work we have seen the devastating consequences a lack of health and safety procedures, appropriate worker training and the absence of risk assessment processes can have on the safety of workers, particularly when it comes to exposure to dangerous substances. Construction is one of the more hazardous industry sectors and widespread failings are a significant concern.

"It is vital the construction industry take the HSE report into account and improve their safety standards to prevent workers suffering an accident at work, which could easily have been avoided with the correct measures in place."
Stephen Nye, Partner