Safety spot checks for building sites

Rachael Tinniswood

The Health and Safety Executive is to carry out unannounced inspections on construction and refurbishment sites across the North West as part of an intensive initiative aimed at reducing serious and fatal injuries.

The HSE has pledged to tackle poor safety standards by examining the following points:

·Whether jobs that involve working at height have been identified and properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions are in place

·Whether equipment is correctly installed or assembled, inspected, maintained, and used properly

·That sites are well organised, minimising the risk of falls

·That walkways and stairs are free from obstructions

·Work areas are clear of waste

·The workforce is made aware of risk control measures.

The spot checks come in advance of the HSE's Shattered Lives campaign, which will be launched on February 25. The initiative will target construction site managers, and building and plant maintenance as well as catering and hospitality and food retail and manufacturing.

In the North West there were 12 deaths on construction sites in 2006/07, and during a similar initiative last summer, HSE inspectors took action against more than half the 154 sites they visited in the region, when they issued 84 enforcement notices.

During the spring/summer period of 2007 there were 33 prosecutions of construction sites by the HSE in the North West.

Stephen Williams, HSE's chief inspector of construction, said: "It is totally unacceptable that so many lives have been lost and continue to be put at risk on construction sites, particularly within the refurbishment sector.

"We will continue to take firm action against rogue elements who ignore safety precautions. Sites where health and safety is taken seriously have nothing to fear, but we will root out those that put lives at risk."

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