The Health & Safety Executive launched a month-long campaign 22nd September, focusing on inspecting and ensuring construction sites around the UK are safe and fit for purpose. The inspection drive is a campaign designed to clampdown on unsafe working practices, unsatisfactory safety standard and has an ultimate aim of reducing the number of construction site injuries and deaths.
Safety inspectors from the HSE have promised ‘robust’ action and response to any safety concerns across construction sites in the UK as it has consistently remained one of the most dangerous industries there is. Figures from 2013 identified that there were 39 fatal injuries in 2012/13 and 3,700 occupational cancer cases. 59% of all serious injuries and fatalities were caused by falls from height.
Of all sectors, the construction injury has the highest number of occupational cancer cases with exposure to asbestos and silica key reasons why the rate is so high. Radiation and cool tars can also cause occupational cancer and though figures of injuries and accidents in the workplace are coming down, there is still great concern around the construction industry.
Inexperienced, Cheap Labour
The main concern surrounding the construction sector is the casual basis that many workers are hired upon. A cut in the HSE budget has meant fewer inspections and this means many construction companies are using this as an opportunity to cut corners, putting their workers at risk. The HSE believe their site inspections are down about 7% from 2012/13 and research suggests that any fall in inspections is likely to lead to an increase in injuries and accidents.
This month-long campaign is hoping to create change and shift opinion back towards safety and vigilance at all times. With a boost in the number of inspections, firms should be looking to ensure all working conditions on their sites are safe. Safety extends beyond the right equipment and also involves protecting workers from inhalation of dangerous chemicals, limiting the work-related cancers that develop in this industry.
Guidance for everything from protection from hazardous chemicals to noise and vibration protection is provided by the HSE and their website ensures that all information is readily available to comply with their regulations. They are also happy to provide help via phone calls and other contact and regularly run seminars and workshops to help the owners of construction companies understand their health and safety requirements.
Accidents in the workplace are falling but even one death a year is too many and this drive should help the construction sector reduce their risks even further. Suffering an accident in the workplace, however minor, is traumatic so minimising the risk really is essential.