Unannounced site visits to target risks in construction
From Monday 24 August, Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) will begin a two-week programme of unannounced site visits to tackle a number of risks facing construction workers.
This is an annual initiative that builds on previous campaigns. However, while there have been improvements in some areas, recent years have shown that construction workers are still dying due to avoidable accidents - this is not acceptable.
In addition, workers’ general well-being is not being properly considered and as construction activity increases it is important that everyone in the industry makes health and safety their priority.
The main aims of the initiative are:
- to achieve an improvement in industry standards, in particular at small sites
- to increase awareness of HSENIs expectations of the industry
- to demonstrate that HSENI will use the enforcement tools at its disposal to prevent immediate risk and bring about sustained improvements
The site visits will focus on key health and safety issues and during inspections HSENI inspectors will consider whether:
- the risks to health from exposure to dust such as silica are being adequately controlled (including the use of RPE and face fit tests for this)
- that the appropriate asbestos survey has been completed prior to any refurbishment or demolition work and is available on site
- jobs that involve working at height (WAH) have been properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions are being used
- WAH equipment is correctly installed, assembled, inspected, maintained and used properly
- welfare facilities are adequate
Announcing the latest series of inspections, Nancy Henry who heads up HSENI’s construction group said:
“Construction remains one of the more dangerous industries and some companies still show a poor attitude to the health and safety of their workers. This attitude can lead to injury, ill health and can cost people’s lives. The simple and effective measures to control these risks are well known but not always implemented.
“The focus last year (2014) on face fit tests for tight-fitting RPE has led to an improvement in this area. This year part of the initiative will aim to drive an improvement in the standard of toilets on sites. Inspectors will be checking that toilets are clean and working, have soap and towels, and that there are washbasins with hot and cold running water.
“HSENI will continue to work with the industry to help to improve standards. However, we will not hesitate to take immediate enforcement action if we find unacceptable practices that put the lives, health and well-being of workers at risk”.
For more information about the initiative or advice on safe working in construction, please visit www.hseni.gov.uk or call the HSENI helpline on: 0800 0320 121.