A HSE blitz of refurbishment sites has been identified that 46% of them fall below the required standard. What are they getting wrong?
Out and about. Although HSE inspectors don’t hit the ground in force as often as they used to, they are still targeting high-risk sectors. In autumn 2015 they visited 1,908 construction and refurbishment sites across the country. They checked all aspects of compliance, but in particular focused on: (1) welfare facilities; (2) exposure to silica and asbestos; (3) manual handling; (4) noise; (5) vibration; (6) exposure to hazardous substances; (7) work at height; and (8) good site order.
Not good enough. Although some sites were given a clean bill of health, many weren’t. Inspectors served 432 prohibition and 260 improvement notices. 58% of the improvement notices were given out because risks to health weren’t being managed properly. In addition to the formal notices, 983 notifications of contravention were served. These were used when a material breach of the law was identified – which, of course, allows the inspectors to charge for their time under the fee for intervention scheme.
New regulations. Inspectors also followed up their visits with contact with the clients and designers. In the HSE’s words this was to “help them to understand their duties” under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015).
Summary. The blitz highlights a number of issues. Firstly, it confirms that the HSE is heavily focused on health issues. Secondly, it expects all parties involved in construction work – including the client – to be up to speed with their duties under CDM 2015.
Tip. If you’re starting a construction project, you must appoint a principal contractor, a principal designer and ensure that a construction phase safety plan is in place. In addition, you must make sure that the contractor has made appropriate arrangements for staff welfare. This includes toilets and an area to take breaks.