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    Regulator reveals priority issues and audiences for the coming year

    The plan of work for HSE’s Construction Division during 2010-2011 sets out what the construction sector can expect from HSE Inspectors in the coming months.

    The Plan Summary states that it is “designed to improve the health and safety performance of the construction industry” and will focus on “making best use of our resources to sustain and, where possible, accelerate long-term improvement in health and safety outcomes”.

    Construction Chief warns of need for continued vigilance

    Philip White, HSE Chief Inspector of Construction, points to the achievments of the construction industry in securing a record that compares well with other countries.

    However, he points out that the fatal accident rate remains over four times the average for all other UK industries and remains the largest contributor to worker fatalities for any sector.

    He goes on to say there are: “signs that the industry is beginning to emerge from recession, as new people come to work in the industry and companies expand the industry must remain vigilant to ensure that health and safety is not ignored or sidelined during a period of growth.”

    HSE will be looking for new ways to help the smaller business “understand and meet their obligations in a proportionate way”

    Headline sectors, issues and HSE interventions planned 

    The priority sectors for HSE attention will be small sites, refurbishment, homebuild, major projects and licensed asbestos work.

    Five issues will be considered at all construction site visits namely: welfare facilities, site transport, work at height, asbestos risks and good order.

    Key interventions by HSE inspectors will involve:

    • Leadership – examination of how effective directors etc are at leading health and safety;
    • CDM Dutyholders – focus on Clients and Co-ordinators to ensure they comply;
    • Local Authority as Client – follow up with LA and Co-ordinators where enforcement notice served;
    • Contractor Competence – promote the competence of organisations and individuals and integration, co-operation / co-ordination amongst the project team;
    • Temporary Works – ensure that adequate management arrangements are in place;
    • Fire – both process and general fire precautions will be examined with particular attention to timber frame, multi-storey or part occupied premises;
    • Domestic and minor commercial roofwork– education, promotion, inspection and enforcement of such roofwork to bring about a significant improvement; 
    • Fragile roofs – promotion of repair methods which allow work without having to go onto fragile roofs
    • Tower cranes– visits to head offices and sites to  assess the knowledge of and adherence to the Strategic Forum for Construction (StFfC) tower crane guidance
    • Mobile cranes – assess compliance with legal requirements and supporting guidance;  
    • Respiratory Risks – raise awareness respiratory risks e.g silica and checks on dust control measures;
    • Manual Handling – at small sites, home building and refurbishment projects to assess arrangements for handling of heavy or awkward materials.
    • Worker Involvement – encouragement of effective worker involvement on site including those works for subcontractors

    The HSE plan for 2010/11 looks to strike a balance between smaller projects and contractors, where the majority of fatal injuries now occur, and major projects where there remains significant potential risk and public interest.

    Major contractors can expect a focus on leadership and competence whereas smaller sites and contractors should anticipate searching questions on roof work and work near fragile surfaces.

    Tower cranes remain high on the agenda. In addition, mobile cranes hire companies will want to be satisfied that those hiring their cranes possess the necessary competencies etc where a ‘contract lift’  has not been taken.

    Finally, it looks as though Clients for construction work and their appointed Co-ordinators will be subject to close HSE scrutiny and assistance as regards compliance with their CDM 2007 duties.   

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