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HSE Construction Inspection Drive Backed By Workplace Injury Lawyers

Concerns Also Revealed Over Exclusion Of Other Sectors From Unannounced Visits


By Rob Dixon

Lawyers who represent victims seriously injured at work have given their backing to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) new campaign of unannounced inspections on construction sites, but reiterated concerns that other sectors remain excluded from such visits.

From now until March 15th, representatives from the HSE will be making unannounced visits to construction projects to assess how employers are managing risks and safety issues, including the use of suitable personal protective equipment and work at height.

According to figures from the organisation, 49 people were killed at work in the construction industry across 2011/12, while 2,884 major injuries were also reported over the same period.

The move has been welcomed by workplace injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, who help those who have suffered life-changing injuries at work to gain justice and access funds to get vital rehabilitation and support.

David Urpeth, national head of workplace injury at Irwin Mitchell, said: “It is common knowledge that the construction industry is one of the most dangerous sectors to work in, with many tasks including working at height and using heavy machinery being fraught with risks.

“Sadly, we see time and time again the devastating consequences of employers failing to take steps to mitigate such risks, with negligence often leaving workers with long-term injuries which not only take them out of the world of work but also have a profound effect on their personal lives.

“We hope that this round of unannounced inspections will prove to be an important reminder to businesses of the fundamental need to put the health and safety of workers before everything else, while also ensuring that employers who are not meeting their responsibilities are rightly identified and held to account.

“Using and maintaining simple safety measures in the workplace can have a huge impact on the welfare of so many people and it is vital that a strong reaction is seen to this latest initiative.”

David added that while it was welcome to see unannounced construction inspections continue, research had recently highlighted concerns over the decision to exclude other sectors including agriculture from such visits. The University of Stirling study revealed more than half of workplace deaths between April 2011 and October 2012 occurred in such areas.

He explained: “The construction industry is a prime example of how inspections play a key role in ensuring that employers are thinking about health and safety all year around – and not just paying the issue attention when an impending, pre-planned visit is due.

“Figures related to these changes are clearly a concern and the HSE and the Government should carefully consider such findings to ensure that a proportionate approach is taken to keep workers in all sectors safe from harm.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise related to Construction Industry Accident Claims