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How Safe Are Employment Standards in The UK's Construction Sector

Posted by on in Accident At Work
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Around 40% of construction sites fail to meet health and safety standards according to the national regulator for workplace health and safety, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Almost half of the close to 1,750 sites were found to have unacceptable conditions with some workers partaking in dangerous working practices. The report comes weeks after analysis from the HSE found that there were just under 2000 accidents and  injuries in construction across the UK last year, with manufacturing having 3159 reported.

Enforcement Action

The latest findings from the HSE report found that many of the dangerous aspects of working were preventable with some of the dangers being down to simply poor management and planning. One in five (over 350 of the sites inspected) sites fell so short of the required standards, that enforcement action needed, with over 300 prohibition notices required and 200 improvement notices distributed.

The most common issues when it came to injuries and accidents in the workplace related to height and falls, with over 40% suffering from an accident due to falls. Failure to control dust and asbestos contributed to 22% of all accidents with insufficient welfare being a cause of 12% of all injuries and accidents/ 35% of all notices served by HSE inspectors were distributed purely on health reasons.

Failure to Provide Basic Safety Measures

Despite numerous factors affecting health and safety in the workplace, failure to provide basic safety for people working at height was most common issue found by Inspectors with 42% of all notices enforced as a result of lack of safety measures.

HSE’s Chief of Construction Philip White said: “These results show that whilst the majority of employers in the refurbishment sector are getting it right, a significant part of the industry is seriously failing its workers.

“The inability to properly plan working at height continues to be a major issue, despite well-known safety measures being straightforward to implement.

“ It is just not acceptable that Inspectors had to order work to stop immediately on over 200 occasions because of dangerous practices.”

He added: “We also find health is often overlooked as its implications are not immediately visible, however the effects of uncontrolled exposure to deadly dusts such as asbestos and silica can be irreversible.

“We urge industry to ensure the most basic of measures such as use of protective equipment and dust suppression methods are put in place to help protect the future health of workers.”

Conviction Rates

According to studies conducted by the HSE there were 674 cases across the UK which resulted in an employer being prosecuted for health and safety breaches in 2013/14, with a conviction rate of 94%. In total, fines given out amounted to more  than £18 million.

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