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Construction Health and Safety News: 04-08 February 2008

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Fatal And Other Incidents

Roofwork inquest suggests that alcohol was involved in fatal fall

A number of major contractors are introducing random drug and alcohol testing of employees and subcontractors. The importance of policies on drugs and alcohol is highlighted by evidence at a recent inquest. A roofer who died falling from a warehouse in 2006 was found to have a high blood alcohol level. Advice 

Underground cable strike and explosion causes serious injury

A construction worker has suffered serious injury after drilling through an underground electric cable. It is understood that he is being treated for life-threatening burns. A number of simple precautions are required to avoid such incidents. Advice

Mechanical excavator strikes watermain and causes chaos

A busy London road was partially closed to traffic after a water main was struck by an excavator during construction work. A half-mile section of road was closed and many business were damaged. In 2001 a major contractor was prosecuted when, in similar circumstances, a driver became stranded on a flooded road and suffered a fatal heart attack. 

Tipper lorry leads to railway injury

The driver of a train had to be cut free from his cab after his train crashed into a footbridge which collapsed when it was struck by a tipper lorry. Tipper lorrys visit construction projects and the major risk is overhead powerline contact. Advice

HSE Construction Initiatives

Falls and trips in construction

An blitz of refurbishment projects is in progress during February 2008. This follows an enforcement programme during summer 2007. HSE have warned “we will take firm action against rogue elements who ignore safety precautions. Sites where health and safety is taken seriously have nothing to fear”. Advice

Asbestos campaign on risk to building maintenance and repair workers

During February and March 2008 a campaign is being rolled out to raise the awareness of building maintenance and repair workers (e.g. electricians, plumbers and carpenters and joiners) to the risk from asbestos during their work. The message is ‘You are more at risk than you think!’ Advice

Leadership event held for asbestos removal contractors  

HSE has organised an eleventh leadership summit for the asbestos removal industry aimed at making further improvements in reducing ill-health caused by work with asbestos.

Safety event for roofing contractors 

Roofing contractors are being invited to a free HSE seminar. The event is for self-employed roofers and small roofing companies and will cover the safe working at height with the opportunity to put questions to a HSE inspector. Advice 

Prosecution Cases

Death caused by reversing skip lorry results in £200k fine

This case arose from a death at metal recycling premises. However, the plant involved is commonly used in the construction sector. Where vehicles and mobile plant are reversing on projects the management of risk arising should be a high priority. Advice  

Prosecutions added to HSE database this week

The above link finds prosecutions taken by HSE Construction Division which have been added to the database this week. The name of the defendant is shown and you can click on ‘Case’ to view the prosecution subject matter. The records are added 9 weeks after the case has been heard. Two cases added this week involve a collapsing fence and a fall from height.

Enforcement Notices

Enforcement notices added to HSE database this week

The above link finds prohibition and improvement notices issued by HSE Construction Division which have been added to the database this week. A total of 39 notices have been added.

Other News

IOSH call for merger of HSE and Local Authority inspectors

The IOSH President has called for a national agency by merging HSE and LA Inspectors to improve enforcement consistency. Such a proposal could result in greater focus on the regulation of smaller construction projects.

Union Chief slams HSE secrecy, distortions and misinformation

UCATT has warned that an HSE culture of secrecy and misinformation is risking workers safety. It is alleged that HSE restrictions on supplying information prevents disclosure of how many workers have died this year.

Surge in New York skyscraper construction deaths leads to call for action

Fatalities on high rise buildings in New York increased sharply in 2007. Injuries increased by 63% with more than 60% involving materials falling during concrete pouring. A registration scheme for concrete contractors is being proposed. 

And finally… 

Crane collapses adjacent to cranes conference in Dubai

I hope to find our News Desk to be helpful and informative. Your feedback on the content and format is always much appreciated.

Best wishes

Philip Poynter

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