HSE inspectors in Wales cut their construction site visits by 35% last year – the exact same proportion by which its budgets have been cut.
BBC Radio Wales submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the HSE which revealed that the number of proactive (unannounced) inspections in Wales fell from 818 in 2011/12 to just 529 in 2012/13. The number of prosecutions undertaken by the HSE in the Welsh construction sector fell from three in 2011/12 to zero in 2012/13.
The cut in inspections comes despite the fact that during a blitz in September 2013, the HSE found that one in three Welsh sites breached safety regulations.
The scale of the reduction of policing by the HSE prompted alarm at the construction trade union Ucatt. Regional secretary Nick Blundell said: “These cuts are truly alarming. Inspections save lives. This fall in inspections is putting construction workers in danger.”
He added: “With the construction industry slowly recovering after the recession the fall in inspections is even more dangerous as it means that even fewer sites will be inspected. New entrants into the industry are particularly vulnerable and at risk of suffering an accident.”