HSE ‘appalled’ at dangerous state of refurbishment sites

Rachael Tinniswood

More than half of the North West refurbishment sites visited by the Health & Safety Executive in February received enforcement notices because they fell seriously below acceptable standards.

A total of 187 sites in the region were inspected and out of these enforcement action was taken in 103 cases. In two cases, non-compliance was so serious that the HSE is considering prosecution.

Mike Cross, head of operations for the HSE's construction division in the North West said: "We stopped work on site immediately during some 80 inspections in the North West because we felt there was a real possibility that life would be lost or ruined through serious injury. Our inspectors were appalled at the blatant disregard for basic health and safety precautions on refurbishment sites across the region.

"HSE will not tolerate negligence or poor safety standards on construction sites. It is totally unacceptable that so many lives have been put at risk and we will take all action necessary to protect workers, including closing sites and prosecuting those responsible.

"The construction industry should take ownership of this issue and do more to tackle poor standards on sites."

During the spot checks, HSE inspectors looked at whether:

  • Jobs that involved working at height had been identified and properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions were in place
  • Equipment was correctly installed / assembled, inspected and maintained and used properly
  • Sites were well organised, to avoid trips and falls
  • Walkways and stairs were free from obstructions
  • Work areas were clear of unnecessary materials and waste
  • The work force was made aware of risk control measures

More than 1,000 spot checks were made nationwide during the month-long inspection initiative.

Over half of the enforcement action was taken against dangerous work at height, which last year led to the death of 23 workers nationally.

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