Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Safety on refurb sites

Last year the number of deaths in construction rose by a massive 28 per cent to a total of 77 workers. Although this figure is still lower than five years ago, worryingly it is the first time in five years that the downward trend in deaths has been reversed, and most of these deaths were in the refurbishment sector.

Throughout February HSE construction inspectors will be carrying out a rigorous 'falls and trips inspection initiative' focused directly at refurbishment construction sites across the Great Britain. In summer 2007 similar checks were undertaken and enforcement action was taken against nearly one in three sites inspected and 244 prohibition notices were served, stopping work instantly. "Work at height remains our biggest concern and falls from height will be the focus of inspections" said Stephen Williams, HSE Head of Construction.

If you are a principle contractor you should:
  • Have a system for the procurement and control of contractors that includes arrangements to check the competence of workers
  • Actively monitor the work of your subcontractors
  • Ensure their safety standards are the same as yours
All duty-holders need to:
  • Identify jobs that involve work at height and ensure that appropriate safety precautions are in place
  • Have procedures for the selection of correct equipment and ensure that the selected equipment is actually used
  • Communicate risk control measures to the workforce
  • Ensure workers are competent to use the equipment that has been correctly installed and assembled
  • Arrange inspection and maintenance of equipment as appropriate
  • Have a risk assessment in place that applies to the Work at height Regulations hierarchy available on the HSE website
Plan how to keep the site tidy
  • Traffic routes should be segregated from pedestrian routes
  • The logistics of material supplies and movements should be considered (what is to be delivered, when, and where it is to be stored), alongside waste control
  • Walkways and stairs should be kept free of tripping hazards
  • 21 per cent of accidents reported to the Electrical contractors Association by members were caused because of a slip or trip.

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