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CARROTS AND STICKS TO INFLUENCE SMALLER BUILDERS

Regulator to target smaller building projects where majority of deaths occur

HSE Construction Inspectors in NW England are about to commence a new initiative targeting small-scale building projects across Greater Manchester and Cheshire.

Injury statistics show two thirds of all construction deaths in the North West and more than half of the serious injuries occur in these two counties.

Six-month focus of effort on smaller domestic projects

During the next six months the Inspectors specialising in construction will visit short-duration building projects to offer support and advice to workers and contractors.

The new initiative will focus on projects being carried out on domestic properties where health and safety may not ordinarily be a top priority.

Neil Jamieson, Principal Inspector at HSE in the North West, said:

“Construction is one of Britain’s most dangerous industries so we want to do all we can to offer support and advice to construction companies and their employees.

The focus of this six-month initiative is to offer tips on improving health and safety on sites, but we will take action in cases where there is a high risk of injury or ill health.

There are many risks to workers on construction sites, from falling off roofs to the inhalation of harmful substances such as asbestos or silica dust, causing life threatening health problems.”

The inspection programme will be supported by a series of ten free health and safety awareness events. The first event will take place in Wigan on Thursday 7 October. Employers and self-employed workers can book a place by calling 0161 952 8358.

Comment

This is positive development which may be worth extending across GB. The initiative is proactive and comprises both inspection and awareness events over an extended period. 

Larger contractors will be pleased to see a focus on the smaller end of the market where the majority of deaths now occur.

The prosecution of a company or individual often has limited scope and short term effect on the behaviour of others.

For example, the Court of Appeal has recently upheld an unusually severe three-year prison sentence imposed on a small builder following death of a 16 year-old crushed by a falling wall on a domestic project.  Yet, how many small builders will be aware of this prosecution or influenced by the scale of the sentence?

High profile prosecutions of smaller builders must be underpinned by a constant and sound balance of carrot (inspection) and stick (awareness programmes). HSE in the NW look to be getting the balance about right.  

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