Back in February we told you about HSE plans to carry out a series of unannounced health and safety spot checks. During a month long campaign, HSE inspectors were to visit construction sites across the Midlands, to assess workers conditions and safety provisions.
So what were the outcomes of these spot checks?
A massive rise in enforcement notices
Worryingly one in six of the 560 sites visited by HSE inspectors was issued with an enforcement notice. In total, 85 enforcement notices were issued during the inspection period.
Obviously the specifics of these enforcement notices will differ between sites, but the fact that nearly 17% of sites fail to meet standards is concerning for operators and employees alike.
Extremely serious breaches identified
Even more disturbing was the issuance of thirteen Prohibition Notices that called for an immediate halt to all work on the affected sites. These sites were found to have fallen far short of expected health and safety standards, presenting a major risk to employees and the general public.
During the course of inspections, the HSE also issued 107 Improvement Notices, calling on site operators to improve standards to protect the health of their workers.
Employers meeting safety but not health obligations
In general HSE inspectors seem to have been satisfied with safety provisions put in place by employers. Health protection measures seem to have been less pleasing.
“We recognise the construction sector’s progress in reducing the number of people killed and injured by its activities. But it is clear from these figures that there is an unacceptable toll of ill-health and fatal disease in the industry,” said HSE chief inspector Heather Bryant, “So, to encourage the industry to treat health issues in the same way as safety, 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.
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A warning for all construction site operators
As Heather Bryant has suggested, the success of the unannounced site visits will mean that the scheme is replicated across the rest of the country between now and December. This means that any construction site could be visited by HSE inspectors to assess health protection measures in place. It will also ensure that even more enforcement notices will be issued in the next four months.
Site operators would therefore be well advised to have their competent person assess current provisions and ensure they meet the specified standards. Far better to resolve any issues found before a financially crippling Prohibition Notice is issued for instance.
Over to you
Have there been any unannounced HSE inspections in your area? Perhaps you yourself have been the subject of a visit – what were the outcomes?