HSE targeted small refurbishment sites during a month long drive and found that 46% were operating below acceptable safety standards. Inspectors had to serve 692 enforcement notices and 983 notifications of contravention. Common issues were poor work at height practices and workers exposed to silica dust and asbestos.
HSE chief inspector of construction Peter Baker said: “It is disappointing that some small refurbishment sites are still cutting corners and not properly protecting their workers. Falls from height are the most common killer in the industry but we still found workers put at risk to save minutes on the job – believing it wouldn’t happen to them.
“The misconception that health issues cannot be controlled is simply not true and ruining people’s lives. Harmful dust, whether silica or wood, is a serious issue and can be managed effectively with the right design, equipment and training. Health effects may not be immediate but the ultimate impact on workers and their families can be devastating. Each week 100 construction workers die from occupational.”
He added: “HSE inspectors found lots of good examples of small sites carrying out work safely, proving it can be done. Larger construction sites accepted the challenge a few years ago and have made big improvements, which all of the industry can learn from. My message to smaller businesses is don’t wait for an accident or visit from an inspector before you make the change, but act now and learn from your colleagues’ example.”