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HSE inspections reveal failure to prevent health risks

One in six sites found failing health risk checks following HSE inspections.

A recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) targeted inspection programme has found that one in six construction sites fail to enforce measures to ensure worker’s health is not comprised. 

The two week national programme saw inspectors visiting sites to focus on the health risks of construction workers. Within that time demands for improvement were placed on over 200 sites, with conditions at some sites causing the HSE to immediately shut down work activities.

The HSE inspections saw the assessment of 560 sites, where inspectors focused in on areas where health risks are at a high. This included the respiratory risks from dusts containing silica materials, exposure to other hazardous substances like cement and lead paint, manual handling, noise and vibration.  

The final figures following completion of the two week programme are yet to be confirmed but early indications have shown conditions at some sites were so poor that work was shut down on at least 13 occasions. 

Of the 560 sites visited, 85 of them received enforcement notices. 13 Prohibition Notices were served, resulting in the discontinuation of certain works or practises until improvement are made, and 107 Improvement Notices were handed out. The inspectors also issued a total of 239 health-related Notices of Contravention at 201 of the sites. 

HSE’s Chief Inspector, Heather Bryant, said: “We recognise the construction sector’s progress in reducing the number of people killed and injured by its activities. But it is clear from these figures that there is an unacceptable toll of ill-health and fatal disease in the industry.

“So, to encourage the industry to treat health issues in the same way as safety, HSE’s inspectors will consolidate the efforts of this initiative throughout the rest of the year by looking at the prevention and control of health risks in construction, alongside their continued assessment of the management of safety risk issues.

“We will make sure the construction industry ‘thinks health’ as well as safety.”

Further information about the Initiative can be found on the HSE website