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HSE Focus on Construction Sites Welcomed

Lawyers urge action saying many accidents at work are as a result of ‘basic safety errors’


A leading workplace injury expert has welcomed the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) new month-long inspection initiative to try and reduce accidents and illness on construction sites, saying too many injuries occur in “avoidable incidents”.

David Urpeth, national head of workplace injury at Irwin Mitchell, acts for many families of those killed and seriously injured in accidents at work on construction sites. He says a month of intensive inspections is a good starting point but urged the HSE to ensure it keeps challenging firms to improve standards and cut unnecessary accidents.

This week, inspectors from the HSE will be visiting sites across Derbyshire taking in Bolsover, Staveley, Ashbourne, Belper, Matlock, Darley Dale, Bakewell, Alfreton, Clay Cross and Chesterfield where refurbishment and repair works are being carried out.

The aim of the month-long initiative is to highlight to those working in construction that poor safety standards are unacceptable, and remind them of the possible repercussions. The inspectors’ main focus is to ensure:

  • precautions are taken during high-risk activity such as working at height;
  • firms stick to good working practices such as keeping sites clean and tidy with clear access routes;
  • equipment is correctly assembled, inspected and maintained.

Latest figures show that during 2010/11, nearly 40 serious injuries occurred on construction sites across Derbyshire, with three deaths and 188 serious injuries across the East Midlands as a whole.

David Urpeth said: “At Irwin Mitchell we fully support this initiative as the construction industry is one of the most dangerous work sectors. We see many clients injured in accidents on sites which are the result of basic lapses in health and safety precautions and could easily be avoided.

“Many people injured in accidents at work face the prospect of requiring a lifetime of rehabilitation and care and it’s our job to help them access the best possible care to help them get their lives back on track.

“We have repeatedly called for improvements in safety standards and will continue to campaign for the rights of the victims we represent. The latest HSE initiative is a good starting point but they must keep up the momentum in inspecting sites and prosecuting offenders to achieve a real step-change in standards.”