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HSE clamp-down shuts one in five sites

14 September 2010

Work was stopped on almost one in five West Midlands construction sites visited as part of an intensive safety initiative in the area, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) reported in July.

The visits by HSE inspectors were aimed at stopping dangerous practices and raising awareness of the risks associated with construction sites to help prevent death and injury to workers.

The visits focused particularly on refurbishment and roofing projects, where HSE has found health & safety standards to be more lax than is generally the case with new build.

During the visits, HSE inspectors were particularly looking at:

  • Jobs that involve working at height had been identified and properly planned to ensure appropriate precautions were in place
  • Equipment was correctly installed/assembled, inspected and maintained and was being used properly
  • Sites were well organised, to avoid trips and falls
  • Walkways and stairs were free from obstructions, again to avoid trips and falls
  • Work areas were clear of unnecessary materials and waste.

Inspectors made unannounced visits to ensure sites were managing work at height safely and the sites were being kept in good order and a reasonable state of cleanliness.

During the month-long campaign, 93 sites involving 95 contractors were visited. As a result, 17 of the sites were closed as the result of prohibition notices being issued.

A prohibition notice is served where there is imminant danger. They require work to stop immediately while the issues raised are resolved.

The prohibition notices issued during the West Midlands initiative were for breaches of health & safety issues such as no edge protection installed for major roof works, incomplete scaffolds being used, missing guard rails and large gaps in scaffold platforms.

Last year, 41 construction workers died and thousands were injured, almost all of them a result of lapses of attention to health & safety requirements.

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