Dangerous working practices found during spot checks of refurbishment sites in N
Date: Monday, February 25, 2008 @ 13:58:19 GMT
Topic: Health and Safety Executive (HSE) News

Examples of bad and even dangerous working practices have been found by HSE inspectors during random spot checks on refurbishments sites in Newcastle.

A total of 30 contractors had an unannounced visit from the Health and Safety Executive last week and as a result five prohibition notices were issued, stopping work immediately on the sites.

Last year 77 workers died in the construction industry in the UK and over half of these were in the refurbishment sector, where the number of deaths rose by 61%. HSE aims to inspect refurbishment sites across the North East throughout February to tackle poor safety standards.

Working at height and good site order were the focus of inspections in Newcastle last week. Work was stopped immediately at sites due to concerns about working at height, woodworking machinery that wasn’t properly guarded and where a proper asbestos check had not been carried out before workers started knocking down walls. In the latter case inspectors are considering bringing a prosecution against the contractors.

In addition to the prohibition notices, three improvement notices were issued regarding good order of sites, welfare facilities and working at height.

HM Inspector of Health and Safety, Michael Brown, said: "Our inspectors were appalled at the willingness to ignore basic safety precautions. We will not tolerate poor standards and will take appropriate enforcement action proactively as well as when an accident occurs.

"However we have also found some examples of good practice at refurbishment sites in Newcastle and are pleased that some contractors displayed high levels of safety precautions.

"Our advice to those who work in the refurbishment sector is to plan work, use competent workers and if working at height use the right equipment and use it safely."

Spot checks will continue in the North East this month where HSE inspectors will be looking at whether:

  • jobs that involve working at height have been identified and properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions are in place;
  • equipment is correctly installed / assembled, inspected and maintained and used properly;
  • sites are well organised, to avoid trips and falls;
  • walkways and stairs are free from obstructions;
  • work areas are clear of unnecessary materials and waste;
  • the workforce is made aware of risk control measures.
More information is available at http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/tripsandfalls/index.htm

This article comes from Sheffield Occupational Health and Safety Association (SOHSA)

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