Poor standards and unsafe work on building sites in Yorkshire and the Humber will be targeted this month as part of an annual push to reduce death, injury and ill health in the industry.
During a concentrated drive running in September, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will visit sites across the region where refurbishment projects or repair works are underway. North Yorkshire will be targeted in particular when Inspectors team up to focus on sites in Craven, Ryedale, Richmond and Hambleton.
HSE inspectors will be part of a national team making more than 2,000 unannounced visits to construction sites across the country. They will be checking to ensure high-risk activities, such as working at height, and work that could result in exposure to harmful dusts, including asbestos, are being properly managed. They will also that check welfare facilities on site are adequate.
Despite a welcome reduction in the number of people killed in 2012/13, the latest figures revealed construction workers are nearly four times as likely to be killed at work compared to the average worker, and an estimated 70,000 in the industry will today be suffering ill health as a result of their work.
In Yorkshire and the Humber last year, six deaths (provisional figures) were recorded in the construction sector. For 2011/12, there were three fatalities and more than 200 major injuries.
The purpose of the campaign is to drive home the message to those working in the industry that poor risk management and a lack of awareness of responsibilities are not only unacceptable, but can cost lives.
Kirsty Hirst, Principal Inspector for Construction, said: “Too many people die or suffer major injuries every year on construction sites in Yorkshire and the Humber as a result of entirely avoidable incidents.
“Just as importantly, the causes of ill health, such as unnecessary exposure to asbestos or silica dust can also 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, 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 and put their workers or others at risk will feel the full weight of the law.”
Further information about the Initiative and safe working in construction can be found online at: www.hse.gov.uk/construction