HSE Reveals Four Out Of Ten Construction Sites Unsafe

Spot Checks Reveal Widespread Failings That Could Endanger Workers


Andrew Robinson, Press Officer | 0113 218 6463
Around 40 per cent of construction sites in the UK have been found to fall short of adequate safety standards when inspected by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The HSE conducted a month-long programme of inspections in September and October this year, during which it found more than one-third of the sites visited (691 out of 1,748) had unacceptable conditions, with dangerous practices seen in many cases. One-fifth of them (360) were so bad that the HSE had to issue formal enforcement instructions.

Health risks were the main focus of the HSE inspections and 35 per cent of the enforcement notices served focused on this, with asbestos management issues, harmful dust control, noise and vibration among the common areas where sites fell short.

The most common shortcoming was a failure to protect against falls from height, with 42 per cent of sites sufficiently bad for enforcement notices to be issued.
Overall, 313 enforcement notices were issued, along with 235 improvement notices.

Commenting on the outcomes of the inspections, HSE chief of construction Philip White remarked: "A significant part of the industry is seriously failing its workers.

"The inability to properly plan working at height continues to be a major issue, despite well-known safety measures being straightforward to implement. It is just not acceptable that inspectors had to order work to stop immediately on over 200 occasions because of dangerous practices."

Mr White said health problems arising from dangerous substances like asbestos and silica are often ignored because their long-term and "irreversible" effects are "not immediately visible".

He added that it is small sites where failings are most common and they account for half of the fatalities and cases of serious illness in the sector.

According to HSE figures, 19 employees and 20 self-employed workers died as a result of falls from height in 2013-14, while around 3,300 suffered serious injuries due to the same cause. These accounted for 29 per cent of workplace fatalities.

Expert Opinion
Construction is one of the most dangerous sectors to work in when it comes to the likelihood of accidents at work, which makes the figures published by the HSE extremely concerning, as clearly companies in this industry are not taking their responsibility for safety seriously enough.

“We have seen the impact an accident at work can have, with fatalities and serious injuries taking place in the sector every year. It is vital firms improve their safety standards and comply with the latest health and safety regulations to keep members of staff safe at work.”
Stephen Nye, Partner