Initial findings from HSE ‘Safer site’ initiative

HSE Construction Inspectors have been carrying out a month long major inspection and enforcement initiative during September, targeting poor standards and unsafe practices in the refurbishment sector.

The main aims of the initiative has been to achieve an improvement in industry standards, in particular at small sites, to increase awareness of HSE’s expectations of the industry and to demonstrate that HSE will use the enforcement tools at its disposal to prevent immediate risk and bring about sustained improvements.

The HSE has revealed that, of the 1,000 site inspections carried out, nearly half of the sites visited had material breaches in safety. As well as issuing Notices of Contravention, a number of sites have also been served with enforcement notices.

The initiative has been focusing on the main causes of accidents and ill-health in refurbishment including:

  • falls from height
  • site organisation
  • structural stability
  • asbestos
  • respirable silica
  • welfare

The final figures for the initiative will be published by the HSE once all the data has been compiled, however photographs taken by HSE inspectors have been uploaded to their website, showing both good and bad practices.

Steve Murphy, UCATT general secretary, said: “These figures demonstrate the dangers faced by construction workers on a daily basis. Failure to ensure a site’s safety could lead to the death or injury of a worker.

“While these initiatives by the HSE are very welcome, inspectors are only visiting a small percentage of all the construction sites in the country. These findings demonstrate why the HSE needs more resources to conduct this type of inspection in all parts of the country throughout the year.”