Health and Safety Executive to make unannounced inspections of refurbishment sites

The Health and Safety Executive is to clamp down on safety breaches at construction sites across the UK this month.

The HSE announced it would be carrying our unannounced checks at sites where refurbishment and repair works are underway in a bid to drive down instances of death, injury and ill health.

The watchdog said inspectors would be focusing on ensuring high-rick activities, such as working at height, and work which could result in exposure to harmful dusts, are being properly managed.

Despite a fall in the number of people killed on construction sites in 2012-13 construction workers remain four times more likely to be killed at work than the average worker.

The HSE estimates 70,000 builders are currently suffering ill health because of work.

Heather Bryant, chief inspector of construction at the HSE, said many deaths were “entirely avoidable incidents”.

She added: “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, let me be clear - 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 can expect to feel the full weight of the law.”