Even if they aren't part of a trade, one of the first things people probably think about when they look at a building site is how safe it looks. Health and safety is always the top concern when it comes to building site work, and new statistics from the Health & Safe Executive show just how different things are in comparison with 40 years ago.
Their new document, titled 'Statistics on fatal injuries in the workplace in Great Britain 2014' suggests that the number of fatalities in Britain has dropped by 85% over the past 40 years, from more than 650 a year in 1974 to a record low of 133 today. The provisional data also states that there were a total of 42 fatal injuries to construction workers in the UK between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014, which is 9% lower than the average figure of 46.
Minister for State Health and Safety Mark Harper praised the findings, calling Britain "officially one of the safest places in Europe - and the world - to work". He also added: "While we all rightly curse false health and safety excuses, it's worth thinking how fortunate we are that we can go out to do a hard days' work, knowing our safety is being taken seriously."
HSE Chair Judith Hackitt also commented on the news, praising the Health and Safety at Work Act. "The Health and Safety at Work Act may be 40 years old but it – and our regulatory system – are world class."
Site safety may be better than ever, but construction workers looking to work onsite still now require a Green Labourers' Card to prove they are qualified to work and are familiar with the health and safety requirements. To earn this, applicants are first required to pass the Level 1 Health and Safety in a Construction Environment award. Here at Access Training we offer the City & Guilds version of this exam, which you can complete alongside your construction training or as an individual qualification. To find out more on the exam and the changes made the the Green Labourers' Card. give us a call on 0800 345 7492.
News via HVP Mag
Construction activity may be on the rise, but sadly it seems the industry isn't completely free of problems just yet as the HSE alarmingly cut back on the amount of safety visits they make to sites.
Wales in particularly has been hit hard as HSE inspectors cut back visits by 35% - incidentally the same proportion by which its budget has been cut. The information was gained by BBC Radio Wales who submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the HSE. Their inquiry revealed that the number of proactive (i.e. unannounced) inspections dropped from 818 in the 2011-12 period to 529 in 2012-13. The number of prosecutions dropped from three to zero in the same timeframe.
A drop in prosecutions might sound like a good thing and could naturally go hand in hand with less inspections, but alarmingly this has all happened at the same time as a safety blitz in September 2013. During this time, the HSE found that one in three Welsh sites breached safety regulations.
Obviously the news has been of much concern to construction trade unions, with Ucatt regional secretary Nick Blundell warning that the cuts were 'truly alarming'. He added: "Inspections save lives. This fall in inspections is putting construction workers in danger."
He also remarked that with construction finally on the recovery following the long recession, a fall in inspections is naturally going to mean less sites visited. This will be putting new entrants at risk, who are more vulnerable and therefore more at risk of suffering an accident.
This is why it isn't important to know all about health & safety measures on construction sites before starting your new career in the trade. Even the most experienced worker could be at risk, but those fresh out of a construction training course should be wary of what's around them. If you think that your work area is unsafe - don't be afraid to report it.
Via The Construction Index
One of the most important parts of any good roofing course (or construction training course in general) is knowing what the right safety measures are to put in place before you even begin. However unfortunately there are still companies out there that ignore this and eventually pay the penalities - such as this roofing firm that have appeared in court after being filmed breaking the law by the BBC's investigative programme Watchdog.
Oldham firm Renov8 (North West) Ltd. and company director Darren Potts were prosecuted by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) after the show revealed footage of a worker walking around a sloping roof of a property in Droylsden using a pressure washer without any means in place to prevent them slipping and falling the ground below. Mr Potts was filmed watching the work from below. The two men were also seen walking on the roof of another property in Salford, with no scaffolding or other measures in place to prevent injury in the event of a fall.
Further investigation from the HSE found that Renov8 did not have any employers' liability insurance, which is a legal requirement for all firms. This means that had the employee gotten injured, he would have not been able to claim compensation. The company pleased guilty to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and failing to have employers liability insurance, resulting in a fine of £1000 and £1225 in prosecution costs. Mr Potts himself was sentenced to 200 hours od community service and also had to pay £1225 in costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Matt Greenly said:
"Renov8 should never have allowed work to be carried out on the roofs of the two bungalows without having suitable safety measures in place. Company director Darren Potts risked not only his own life but the life of an employee by clambering around slippery roofs. Renov8 could easily have hired scaffolding for the work but failed to do this, despite using scaffolding on similar properties in the past. The company also ignored the law relating to employers’ liability insurance, meaning the employee wouldn’t have been able to claim a penny in compensation if he had been injured."
The results are in from the Health & Safety Executive's month-long tour of construction sites and its not looking good.
Over September the HSE visited a total of 2607 construction sites where refurbishment or repair work was taking place, and found that safety standards were not being met on 1105 sites - that's nearly half of the total amount!
This news doesn't come as a big surprise when you consider the earlier photos the HSE released of some of the sites they visited (which can be seen here and here), but on 644 sites practices were so poor that enforcement action was needed to protect workers. 539 prohibition notices were served ordering "dangerous activities to stop immediately", while a further 414 improvement notices were issued to order a rise in standards. The most common problems identified included failing to protect workers during activities at height, exposure to harmful dust and inadequate welfare facilities.
Heather Bryant, HSE's Chief Inspector of Construction said: "It is disappointing to find a significant number of sites falling below acceptable health and safety standards, where our inspectors encountered poor practice this often went hand in hand with a lack of understanding.
"Through initiatives like this we are able to tackle underlying issues before they become established and we will continue to work with the industry in an effort to drive up standards.
"However those who recklessly endanger the health and lives of their workforce can expect to face tough consequences."
Via Construction Enquirer
Via Construction Enquirer
Towards the end of September we wrote up a post revealing some of the horrific conditions the Health & Safety Executive had found construction sites in, and now they have returned with even more shocking images of what some workers are subject to.
The HSE are still compiling the final results of their tour across UK building sites (which ran over the course of September), but their initial figures have ALREADY shown that nearly half the sites they visited had some sort of serious safety failing.
This alarmingly high rate has promoted the Unite union to call for increased funding in order for the HSE to carry out more site inspections.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: "The HSE's spot checks throughout September are proof that the Executive needs more capacity and funding.
"The extent of the breaches uncovered also shows why trade union health and safety committees are so important in the construction industry and why we need more.
"The ending of the spot checks will be manna from heaven for the worst employers and unfair to employers who work with unions to get it right. The government’s attack on health and safety must be reversed."
Below is the latest batch of pictures released by the HSE:
Wheeled scaffolding precariously balanced at this site.
This site seems to have absolutely no regard for electrical safety.
Would you use this ladder at the top of a four lift scaffold?
I would hardly call this support adequate.
Via Construction Enquirer
We mentioned earlier this month that the Health & Safety executive would be taking a tour of building sites across the UK to catch out any that had "less than adequate" facilities. No more than a few weeks later, their inspections have produced some rather shocking results.
So far their tour, which runs from the 2nd September until the 27th, has revealed that nearly half the sites they have visited have some sort of safety failings. Out of a total of 1000 sites, that's a very high number. Many of them had also been issued with enforcement notices.
UCATT (Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians) General Secretary Steve Murphy said: "These figures demonstrate the dangers faced by construction workers on a daily basis.
"While these initiatives by the HSE are very welcome, inspectors are only visiting a small percentage of all the construction sites in the country.
"These findings demonstrate why the HSE needs more resources to conduct this type of inspection in all parts of the country throughout the year."
Below you can see some pictures of some of the sites they visited:
A prohibition noticed was served on this extension work after exposed scaffolding was found, putting workers at risk from falling through on to the building works.
An improvement notice was served here as site management fell below safe standards.
Unsafe excavation work here led to a Prohibition notice.
Is this the kind of hygiene facilities you should be finding on a construction site?
Are you looking to switch careers and join the construction industry as a carpenter, bricklayer, plasterer, tiler or decorator? Not sure where you can get the qualifications to join this exciting, challenging and rewarding sector? An Access Academies training course could change your life. With the help of our expert teaching staff, you'll work through an intensive construction course that gets you the required qualifications to become a professional tradesman. To find out more, have a look at the courses pages on this website or contact us on 0800 345 7492.
It looks like the Gas Safe Register aren't the only ones calling for safety awareness this month.
Following (but unrelated to) yesterday's news of the Health & Safety Executive cracking down on a Bolton building firm's unsafe scaffolding, HSE inspectors have announced that they are launching a month-long safety campaign on smaller reburbishment jobs across Britain.
Unannounced inspections will take place on sites where refurbishment or repair works are underway, focusing on working at height and work which could expose builders to harmful dusts. However their inspections will also take a look at whether adequate welfare facilities such as toilets and handwashing facilities have been provided.
Heather Bryant, HSE Chief Inspector of Construction, said: “Too many people die or are seriously injured every year on Britain’s construction sites as a result of entirely avoidable incidents.
“Just as importantly, workers are unnecessarily being exposed to serious health risks, such as asbestos or silica dust, which can have fatal or debilitating consequences.
“Often we find it is smaller companies working on refurbishment and repair work who are failing to protect their workers through a lack of awareness and poor control of risks.
“This initiative provides a chance to engage with these firms to help them understand what they need to do, so they can put in place the practical measures needed to keep people safe. “However, let me be clear – if we find evidence that workers are being unnecessarily and irresponsibly put at risk we will not hesitate to take robust action. Companies who deliberately cut corners can expect to feel the full weight of the law.”
Via Construction Enquirer
Are you looking to switch careers and join the construction industry as a carpenter, bricklayer, plasterer, tiler or decorator? Not sure where you can get the qualifications to join this exciting, challenging and rewarding sector? An Access Training course could change your life. With the help of our expert teaching staff, you'll work through an intensive construction course that gets you the required qualifications to become a professional tradesman. To find out more, have a look at the courses pages on this website or contact us on 0800 345 7492.