HSE swoop on small sites in 2015. What next?
An HSE Construction Initiative during 2015, with the theme 'Health as well as Safety', exposed widespread misunderstanding of what 'occupational health' means for smaller businesses in the construction industry.
Targeting small refurbishment sites, HSE inspectors found that 46% were operating below acceptable safety standards. Of the 692 enforcement notices, more than 200 were related to health. Top issues of concern were poor work at height practices and workers exposed to silica dust and asbestos.
HSE chief inspector of construction Peter Baker pointed out that HSE inspectors also found lots of good examples of small sites carrying out work safely, proving it can be done. 'It is disappointing that some small refurbishment sites are still cutting corners and not properly protecting their workers,' he said.
A guide offered by the HSE, Occupational Health Risk Management in Construction, defines the health risks and outlines what needs to be done to control them. 'It demystifies how to best manage them and provides information as to where firms can get help and assistance,' said IOSH executive director Shelley Frost. The guide is free and available on the HSE website http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/meetings/iacs/coniac/coniac-oh-guidance.pdf.
The HSE continues to spot-check activity across UK construction and doesn't actively announce its intentions for obvious reasons. Awareness is increasing within the UK of the need to properly care for all workers on site, and those nearby to site activity, to preserve from long-term illness and disability. RVT actively supports all sites in pursuing this worthy cause.