Lee Calver of Workplace Law writes about how the HSE is making sure that the construction industry 'thinks health' as well as safety'.
Not many weeks pass without the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) releasing new research or detailing a recent prosecution, but last week was possibly the busiest for the HSE in a long time.
First up, it revealed the results of its national targeted inspection which focused on health risks for construction workers.
During a two-week period of proactive inspections, the HSE demanded improvements and in cases where sites fell short of expected standards, put an immediate stop to work activities.
HSE revealed that its Inspectors focused on significant health risk issues, such as respiratory risks from dusts containing silica materials, exposure to other hazardous substances such as cement and lead paint, manual handling, noise and vibration.
Although final figures from the initiative are yet to be confirmed, it did state that conditions were so poor in certain situations that work had to be stopped on at least 13 occasions.
Work stopped at sites
Following a total of 560 visits to sites, 85 enforcement notices and 107 improvement notices were served, as well the 13 prohibition notices which stopped work on site.
Incredibly, a total of 239 health-related Notices of Contravention were served at 201 of the sites. A HSE spokesman confirmed that these notices generate an FFI invoice. He explained that a Notice of Contravention is issued where there has been a material breach of health and safety law but not so bad as to require a prohibition notice or an improvement notice.
Chief Inspector's thoughts
Commenting, HSE’s Chief Inspector, Heather Bryant, said last week: “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.”
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