A recent month-long HSE initiative found that almost one-in-five construction sites visited failed safety checks.
2,363 sites were visited and a total of 631 enforcement notices were served across 433 sites. 451 of the enforcement notices ordered that work on the site stop immediately until enforcement notices had been complied with.
Whilst the HSE's initiative highlights that the majority of construction employers take their Health and Safety duties seriously, there is still room for improvement. In particular, the HSE noted that it had encountered a number of examples of poor practice, including lack of edge protection, unsafe storage of flammable materials and products, and inadequate personal protective equipment.
The HSE has extensive enforcement powers to prevent poor practice by construction employers. As we know, in the construction industry, 'time is money'. Consequently, employers can take some simple steps to lower the likelihood of the HSE requiring a site to stop work on health and safety grounds. In particular, HSE inspectors will be considering whether:
- sites are clear of unnecessary materials, waste and other trip hazards
- walkways and stairs are free from obstructions
- suitable PPE has been provided by the employer and is worn at all times
- work has been properly planned when working at height and the risks have been identified to ensure that appropriate procedures have been put in place
- all equipment has been correctly installed and maintained