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Clampdown on construction site safety in south east London

02 September 2013 15:32

Health and Safety Executive

Poor standards and unsafe work on building sites in South East London 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 in Croydon, Lewisham and Southwark where refurbishment projects or repair works are underway.

Local 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 which 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 London last year (2012/13), provisional statistics show eight deaths were recorded in the construction sector, more than was recorded in any other region of Great Britain. The previous year, there were five fatalities and nearly 500 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.

Janet Francis, Principal Inspector for Construction for South East London, said:

“Too many people die every year on London’s construction sites as a result of entirely avoidable incidents and too many suffer disabling and life-changing injuries.

“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

Ends

Notes to editors
1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain's national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk

2. During inspections, HSE inspectors will consider whether:

• jobs that involve working at height have been identified and properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions, such as proper support of structures, are in place
• equipment is correctly installed / assembled, inspected and maintained and used properly
• proper monitoring and control arrangements to prevent unnecessary exposure to harmful dusts are in place
• 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 and welfare facilities are adequate.

3. Further HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press

Media enquiries

Helen Atha/Paul Butler (RNN) 0113 346 6083/6088
HSE Out of Hours: 0151 922 1221

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF HSE BY REGIONAL NEWS NETWORK

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