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Refurbishment sector ‘unacceptable’ standards says HSE

04 March 2008

A spot check on 1000 sites undergoing refurbishment by the HSE last month resulted in more than 300 sites being closed down and 395 enforcement notices issued because of safety failures, particularly concering working at height.

“Over one in three construction sites visited put the lives of workers at risk and operated so far below the acceptable standard that our inspectors served 395 enforcement notices and stopped work on 30 per cent of the sites ”, Geoffrey Podger, HSE’s Chief Executive following HSE spot checks.

This comes after The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out over 1000 spot checks of refurbishment sites across the country during February as part of its rolling inspection programme targeting poor performing sectors in the construction industry.
“We stopped work on site immediately during approximately 300 inspections because we felt there was a real possibility that life would be lost or ruined through serious injury. Our inspectors were appalled at the blatant disregard for basic health and safety precautions on refurbishment sites across Great Britain.

HSE will not tolerate negligence or poor safety standards on construction sites. It is totally unacceptable that so many lives have been put at risk and we will take all action necessary to protect workers, including closing sites and prosecuting those responsible. The construction industry should take ownership of this issue and do more to tackle poor standards on sites", was Mr Podger’s stark warning to the refurbishment sector.

HSE’s construction division reported that basic safety precautions were being flouted and issues such as work at height remain a huge concern. Over half of the enforcement action taken during this inspection initiative was against dangerous work at height, which last year led to the death of 23 workers.

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