Refurbishment Sites Targeted by HSE in Bid to Stop Refurbishment Deaths

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) today warned the construction sector in Newcastle that they will be out in force carrying out spot checks on refurbishment projects to ensure that workers’ lives are not being put at risk and that sites are in good order.

Last year, 77 workers in the UK were killed on construction sites, and 60% of the fatalities occurred in the refurbishment sector.

During a similar initiative carried out last summer, a total of 78 contractors in the North East received a visit from inspectors and enforcement notices were issued on 13 occasions for poor practice relating to working at height, failing to have sites tidy and free from tripping hazards and other safety issues.

HM Inspector of Health and Safety, Michael Brown, said: “We’ll be carrying out spot checks across refurbishment sites in Newcastle to ensure that workers' lives are not being put at risk. Our inspectors continue to be appalled at the willingness to ignore basic safety precautions. We will not tolerate poor standards and will take appropriate enforcement action.

"Site safety should be paramount and the simple answer is that too many sites allow bad practices to continue. We have a message for all construction sites – we are watching you. Sites in Newcastle where health and safety is taken seriously have nothing to fear, but we will not let up in our campaign to root out those that put lives at risk.

"Working at height remains the biggest concern and is the single greatest cause of workplace fatalities, while slips and trips are the most common cause of serious injury.

"The construction industry is a challenging environment with a mobile workforce moving from site to site, many with a poor understanding of the problems. But it is up to us all to ensure that they have a safe working environment and receive the proper training so that their lives are not put at risk."

During the inspection initiative HSE inspectors will be ensuring that:

  • Jobs that involve working at height have been identified and properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions are in place
  • Equipment is correctly installed / assembled / inspected and maintained and being used properly
  • Sites are well organised, to avoid slips, trips and falls
  • Walkways and stairs are free from obstructions
  • Work areas are clear of unnecessary materials and waste
  • The workforce is made aware of risk control measures

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