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SITES AND CONTRACTORS REMAIN BELOW PAR

Inspection initiative confirms widespread safety mismanagement

Results of the HSE Refurbishment Initiative which ran throughout March 2009 have now been published. 

Construction Inspectors met 2145 contractors on 1759 sites and issued almost 500 enforcement notices, mainly on work at height issues. Prosecution is being considered in 11 serious cases.

Working at height remains the biggest single cause of serious and fatal injuries on construction sites yet one in six of the sites inspected demonstrated significant failings in this area requiring prohibition. During the initiative HSE found that 1 in 5 sites and 1 in 5 contractors inspected were “working below the acceptable standard”. 

HSE Chief Inspector of Construction, Phillip White, said: “This inspection initiative was well publicised and for our inspectors to still find this level of disregard for basic health and safety standards on refurbishment sites is disappointing. While any improvement has to be welcomed, our inspectors still found practices so far below the acceptable standard that they felt it necessary to take enforcement action on one in five sites. This is still very worrying.”

Comment: Many will find these, albeit marginally improving, results to be very disturbing. It remains unclear from the limited feedback as to where the problem lies and therefore where HSE resources might be further targeted to make a difference. 

The findings beg the following question(s): Were standards lower on… major or minor sites? Commercial or domestic (home) projects? Large or smaller developers? With a CDM-C  and PC appointed or not? Public or private client? Finishing or structural phases? A detailed and considered analysis of the initiative data may help avoid a further set of ‘disappointing’ findings in 2010.

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