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02 September 2013 14:08

Health and Safety Executive

Unsafe practices on construction sites across Birmingham and the Black Country are to be targeted as part of a national initiative aimed at reducing death, injury and ill health.

To support a month-long drive to improve standards in one of Britain’s most dangerous industries, inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will visit sites where refurbishment or repair works are taking place.

For four weeks from today, Monday 2 September, they will make unannounced visits to ensure duty holders are managing high-risk activity, such as working at height.

They will also check for general good order, assess welfare facilities and check whether suitable personal protective equipment (PPE), such as head protection, is being used appropriately.

During 2011/12, seven people were killed while working in construction in the West Midlands. A further 212 across the region were seriously injured.

The purpose of the initiative is to remind those working in the industry that poor standards are unacceptable and could result in enforcement action.

Two thirds of sites involving student properties in the Selly Oak area of Birmingham failed safety inspections following recent targeted checks by HSE.

Inspectors found standards on 17 sites were so poor they were considered to be in breach of health and safety legislation.

Five Prohibition Notices were served, which stopped some work activities immediately, and six Improvement Notices were issued that required improvements to be made to working practices.

Sites where safety was not of the required level, but where it was not deemed serious enough for Prohibition Notices or Improvement Notices, were served with a Notification of Contravention. This is a written confirmation of any breaches found.

Jo Anderson, HSE Principal Inspector for the West Midlands Construction Division, said:

“Death and injury continue to result from avoidable incidents and it is largely those engaged in refurbishment and repair work who are failing to step up to the mark. Poor management of risks and a lack of awareness of responsibilities are unacceptable.

“In many cases simple changes to working practices can make all the difference, and can even save lives. Therefore, if we find evidence that workers are being unnecessarily put at risk, we will take strong action.

“We are determined to drive the message home that site safety and worker welfare cannot be compromised.”

Further information about safe-working in construction can be found online at:


Notes to Editors

Notes to editors

1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain's national regulator for workplacehealth 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.

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 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
  • that suitable PPE, including head protection, is provided and worn at all times

3. The national refurbishment inspection initiative runs from 18 February to 15 March.

4. Further HSE news releases are available at

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