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COMPLAINING ABOUT DANGEROUS CONSTRUCTION SITES

HSE revises and publishes protocol for notifying dangers in construction

The protocol followed by HSE for considering and investigating complaints has recently been revised and published on the HSE website.

On making a complaint HSE will check that the complaint relates to a work activity where HSE is responsible for enforcing the health and safety legislation and then seek to identify from the information you provided:

  • who is responsible for health and safety at the location of the complaint;
  • who is at risk of injury or ill health or has no adequate welfare facilities;
  • what injury or ill health could result and how likely is this.

An officer will assess your complaint and place it into one of the following categories:

  1. Red = Serious Risk and a complaints officer will follow it up as a high priority within 24 hours of receipt (or it will be passed to an inspector for an on-site investigation)
  2. Amber = Significant Risk and a complaints officer will follow it up within 5 days of receipt
  3. Green = Low Risk and it will not be followed-up by HSE
 
What HSE will do about your concerns

HSE state they will not follow up a ‘red’ or ‘amber’ complaint if, from the information provided, they are not able to identify or establish who is responsible for the work that you have complained about. In such situations, this will be recorded as a “matter of concern” and no action will automatically be taken. However, if the “matter of concern” has been assessed as “red” it will be reviewed by an inspector.

The other situations where HSE will not investigate your complaint are:

  • when you make a complaint anonymously to HSE or withhold contact details. This is because HSE is not able to substantiate or discuss the information with you or ensure that it is not ‘malicious';
  • when you have not raised the issue with the person responsible for health and safety or your trade union – unless you have ‘good reason’ to believe you would be placed in a vulnerable position if you did;
  • when there are no reasonably practicable precautions to deal with the matters raised;
  • when it is impracticable to pursue your complaint.
Comment

These arrangements apply to all work activity, including construction sites. In summarry, HSE will follow up complaints about dangerous sites if you can provide: (1) clear and accurate details of the location of the work (2) information on the serious risks observed and (3) your contact details. 

Conscientious contractors and others are often angered by the dangerous practices observed on their travels. Perhaps it is now time to get even rather than angry.  HSE lacks ‘intelligence’ on smaller projects (where the majority of construction site deaths occur) and complaints from the public can help fill the gap.    

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