Latest HSE inspections lead to enforcement action on hundreds of refurbishment sites across UK

One in five construction sites failed health and safety checks during the latest national inspections carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), new figures have revealed.

Inspectors visited 1,759 refurbishment sites during March, checking whether 2,145 contractors were complying with health and safety regulations.

Sufficiently serious risks that led to enforcement action were found on 348 sites, meaning work had to stop immediately or ordered improvements had to be made.

Building site
Inspectors visited 1,759 refurbishment sites during March

Around 500 enforcement notices were issued in total.

The HSE said improvements had been made in certain parts of the country since last year, when inspectors took enforcement action on 30% of sites visited.

Philip White, the HSE's new chief inspector of construction, said: “This inspection initiative was well publicised and for our inspectors to still find this level of disregard for basic health and safety standards on refurbishment sites is disappointing.

“While any improvement has to be welcomed, our inspectors still found practices so far below the acceptable standard that they felt it necessary to take enforcement action on one in five sites. This is still very worrying.”

During the inspection initiative, HSE inspectors looked at whether:

  • Jobs that involved working at height had been identified and properly planned, with appropriate precautions in place
  • Equipment was correctly installed or assembled, inspected and maintained and used properly
  • Sites were well organised to avoid trips and falls
  • Walkways and stairs were free from obstructions
  • Work areas were clear of unnecessary materials and waste
  • Risks associated with exposure to asbestos were managed and carried out correctly
  • The workforce was made aware of risk control measures.