Health & Safety Executive warns safety of staff working ‘at height’ will be a prime focus of latest drive

The Health & Safety Executive has warned that it is focusing on construction staff working at height as part of a month long drive to improve safety standards in the sector.

It said inspectors would be visiting sites where refurbishment and repair works were being carried out as part of an “intensive” initiative aimed at reducing death, injury and ill-health.

According to the HSE’s statistics some 50 construction staff were killed as a result of workplace accidents in 2010/11, with a further 2,298 suffering major injuries.

Chief inspector of construction Philip White said the refurbishment sector continued to be the most risky for construction workers.

“All too often straightforward practical precautions are not considered and workers are put at risk,” he said.

“In many cases, simple changes to working practices can make all the difference.

“Poor management of risks in this industry is unacceptable. As we have demonstrated in the past, we will take strong action if we find evidence that workers are being unnecessarily put at risk.”

The HSE said a particular focus of attention would be the level of planning that had been put in place to ensure that staff working at height benefitted from appropriate precautions.

Other considerations would include the correct assembly and installation of equipment, on-site organisation, and the extent to which walkways were free from obstructions.