- almost half of small refurbs fail
Worse Year for Accidents
Nearly half of all small refurbishment projects inspected by the HSE in 2016 fell below standards in health and safety, worse than last year’s inspection. Notes published at the end of last year revealed that inspectors visited a total of 1,840 sites and inspected 2,235 contractors in June/July and October/November in 2016. Out of these, 49% of sites fell below safety standards.
More Enforcement Notices
Inspectors issued 741 enforcement notices and 1,059 notices of contravention. Inspectors had to deal immediately with a number of dangers: safe working at height was a particularly prevalent issue, as was the management of asbestos and silica dust. A similar blitz on small refurbishment sites in 2015 found problems on 46% of sites visited and 692 enforcement notices and 983 notifications of contravention were served.
Brian Rye, acting general secretary of construction union UCATT said the figures showed that sites were not up to scratch and that the HSE needed more help. He commented: “This shows that safety standards on small construction sites remain a basket case. Safety laws are being ignored and workers placed in daily danger. It is frankly more by luck than judgement that more workers are not being killed at work. It also shows that the HSE needs greater resources to conduct these initiatives 12 months of a year as they are only able to visit a tiny amount of sites.”
More Small Firms Fined
The failings in prosecutions come as more small firms are fined for their poor safety performance. One of these was a specialist roofing company which with its two directors have been sentenced after admitting working unsafely at height on a hotel development in central Manchester during a major refurbishment and extension works.
Member of the Public Photographed Site
On the 17 March 2015, a member of public witnessed and photographed unsafe work at a construction site and contacted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Manchester Magistrates Court heard that the photograph showed Jake Clarke, one of a pair of directors for Enviroply Roofing Ltd. His fellow director, Aaron Hepworth, was also witnessed walking along the beam to pass something to Clarke, then walking back again. There was nothing in place to prevent or mitigate a fall from this beam.
Rushed Job Ignored Scaffold
The HSE investigation discovered that there was a full-time scaffolder on site who was employed to build any scaffolding required by contractors but on this occasion, Enviroply and its directors had chosen to rush the job in order to submit their invoice earlier. Clarke and Hepworth put their lives at risk as the fall would have been one storey and onto timber beams. All three defendants failed to take the proper precautions to manage the risk of a significant fall from height, despite there being adequate provision on site to provide them with scaffolding and safe working platforms.
Guilty Plea - Heavy Fines
Enviroply Roofing Ltd of Unit 20b, Yarrow Business Centre, Yarrow Rd, Chorley, pleaded guilty at Manchester Magistrates Court to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £13,300 with £1160.50 costs. Jake Joseph Clarke of Crown Street, Leyland, Preston, pleaded guilty at Manchester Magistrates Court to breaching Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £1,100 with £1,160.50 costs. Aaron Paul Hepworth of 1 Appleyard, Prestolee Road, Radcliffe, pleaded guilty at Manchester Magistrates Court to breaching Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £2,100 with £1,160.50 costs.
‘Off-Site’ Prefabrication Can Reduce Risks
Besides many more of a buildings elements removing tasks to factory sub-assembly, the procedures and processes for the erection and incorporation of these elements on site tends to be more controlled and considered. ‘Safety’ of assembly becomes an essential and integral part of the design process. Pre-planning of how works are to be executed is considered in detail before any element is actually sent to the factory for fabrication. Plans for moving, delivering, unloading, site storage and site handling all form part of the ‘off-site’ manufacturer’s tasks. Give us a call to discuss how we can help to make your projects safer places to work.