Must do better on health and safety! That's the end of year report for the construction industry following damning evidence that almost one in five construction sites failed recent inspections by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
HSE inspectors visited 3237 sites and saw 4080 contractors, but 581 sites were found to have practices that put workers at risk with a total of 870 enforcement notices issued, and in 603 instances work had to stop immediately.
"While this was a slight improvement on previous years, it's still a worrying picture of safety standards in the construction industry", said Gary Plant, Managing Director of Altius Vendor Assessment, which assesses health and safety and risk management standards among contractors.
Inspectors targeted sites where refurbishment or repair work was being carried out as part of an annual, month-long drive across Britain with the aim of reducing the risk of death, injury and ill health.
The focus was on high-risk activity including working at height and ensuring sites were in 'good order', being clean and tidy with clear access routes.
The HSE has also reported 50 fatalities in the construction sector last year (2010- 2011), with 54% occurring in the refurbishment, repair and maintenance sector. The regulator says that falls from height remain one of the most common causes of deaths and major injury and responsible for the largest proportion of enforcement notices (49%).
Gary Plant added: "Robust evidence based contractor assessment and accreditation can provide the prompts construction companies need to ensure they have training schedules and policies in place to deal with high risk activities, such as hot works and working at height. Such evidence also provides protection to client companies employing contractors who can demonstrate that they have used due diligence in selecting competent suppliers.
"From October 2012, failing on health and safety will become even more expensive as this is the anticipated date for the introduction of the Health and Safety Executive's cost recovery scheme, Fee for Intervention (FFI). The scheme aims to recover costs from those who break health and safety laws, recovering the costs incurred by HSE officers in investigating the matter and taking enforcement action."