25% of city building sites ‘unsafe’
More than a quarter of 163 construction sites in Greater Manchester visited by safety inspectors last week failed to meet the required standards.
Health and Safety Executive inspectors carried out checks at construction sites in Manchester, Salford and Trafford and issued a total of 56 enforcement notices at 42 sites. The action meant either work was stopped immediately or in some cases improvements had to be made. Some of the companies involved could face prosecution.
Nearly half of the enforcement notices were due to unsafe work being carried out at height. Other issues included excessive dust and inadequate ventilation or failure to provide masks, dangerous electrics and the general state of sites.
New figures from the HSE show there were 498 serious injuries and one death on construction sites in Greater Manchester in 2009. There were also 45 serious injuries and one death in Warrington. The intensive two-day inspections took place as part of a month-long initiative aimed at stopping dangerous practices on building sites across the country.
The national inspection initiative is focusing on refurbishment, including roofing work. Inspectors are making unannounced visits to ensure that sites are managing refurbishment work, including work at height safely and that sites are in good order.
Polly Tomlinson, the HSE’s Principal Inspector for Construction in Greater Manchester, said: “We will continue to make unannounced visits to sites, and take enforcement action when necessary, until the message gets across. It simply isn’t worth taking risks to try and save money.”
“What jumps out at me is that ‘Nearly half of the enforcement notices were due to unsafe work being carried out at height.’ First, let’s be clear about what constitutes ‘Work at height’. It is a place where there is the potential for a person to fall a distance and possibly sustain injury including a place at or below ground level; or whilst obtaining access to or egress from such place while at work, except by a staircase in a permanent workplace. Once we’re clear about this, what follows is a risk assessment and implementation of measures to control the risk of falls. Guys – this is not rocket science. If your people are not applying the right rules on site – as stated in risk assessments and method statements – it should be a disciplinary matter with yellow and red cards being used to focus minds. We specialise in site checks and audits to provide feedback and help our clients. If we can help let me know” Tom Searle, Britrisk Safety.
Britrisk specialize in working within the construction sector to continually improve best working practices, site risk and safety assessments, call us for more details.