HSE launches crackdown on construction sites

HSE inspectors are to launch an intensive inspection initiative aimed at stopping dangerous practices on building sites across Great Britain. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) wants to raise awareness of construction site risks and prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths. During 2008/09, 53 workers died and 11, 264 were injured, across Great Britain, while working in construction.

The inspection initiative – starting on 1 March – will focus on refurbishment or roofing work. Inspectors will make unannounced visits to ensure that sites are managing work at height safely and are in good order.

Philip White, HSE’s Chief Inspector of Construction said:

“Each year too many construction workers are needlessly injured or killed while working on site. While some sectors of the industry have made real improvements in recent years, we are really concerned about standards in the refurbishment sector, particularly on small projects. HSE does not think a lax attitude to health and safety in one of the more dangerous industries is acceptable, especially when many of the incidents are completely avoidable by taking common sense actions and precautions. This is the third year running we have run initiatives like this and, after these latest inspections, we hope that we can report back that we have found good practice and safely operating sites. However, if we find poor practice that is putting the lives of workers and, in some cases the public, at risk we will take action; this could include closing sites and prosecuting those responsible.“

Note: Last year inspectors visited 1,759 sites and 2,145 contractors and issued more than 270 prohibition notices to stop dangerous work – much of it relating to working from height.

If you need any help or assistance with health and safety our expert health and safety consultants can help you From health and safety policy development to noise and COSHH risk assessment, safety audits and staff development, just call us on 01453 800100 or visit us at www.outsource-safety.co.uk. We also provide safety services to the construction industry including CDM Coordinator, construction site safety visits, method statement and risk assessment development and health and safety policy work. Please contact us on 01453 800100 for an informal chat or visit our website for more information.

Employing agency workers – can you share the risk?

Most businesses use agency staff at some point.  Whether to cover a longer term absence, cope with an upturn in business or to cover a the absence of a key worker.

Naturally, the person who is employed to carry out this role has a right to expect a safe workplace and you, as an employer, have a duty of care towards them.  But what of the employment agency?  How can you share the risk of employment and what should your agency be doing to help you manage the risk?

Read on for an interesting update of what should be happening and what you can do to share the burden of risk management.

The Employment Agency Standards (EAS) inspectorate has reported that eleven out of twelve employment agencies it investigated were failing in their health and safety duties.  If you do use agencies you should be aware that they share the burden of good health and safety with you and must play their role to ensure that their staff are safe whilst working on your premises.

The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 (CEAEBR) clearly sets out the safeguards which should be in place. In total, the investigation found evidence of 57 infringements. Of particular concern were the breaches of the CEAEBR health and safety requirements. These state that an employment agency may not, “introduce or supply a work-seeker to a hirer unless the agency or employment business has obtained sufficient information from the hirer”. Specifically, the agency must identify from the hirer “any risks to health or safety and the steps the hirer has taken to prevent or control such risks”.

If you’re using employment agencies:

  • Supply your agency with copies of relevant risk assessments.
  • Set out details of the experience, training, qualifications and any particular authorisations required.
  • Remind the agency of their legal responsibility under the CEAEBR to pass on the information about the risks of the job and to check that the workers they supply will meet all of your requirements.
  • Ask them to sign to confirm that they have fulfilled all of these responsibilities.

COSHH – Stonemasons prosecuted over lung disease in worker

A stonemasons has been fined £30,000 after employees working around silica based materials fell ill with lung diseases. William Anelay Limited has been told by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to take correct safety precautions after two employees developed the potentially life shortening illnesses upon exposure to uncontrolled levels of respirable crystalline silica.

The York based firm admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The city’s crown court heard the exposure, between May 1994 and July 2008, is caused primarily by dry stone carving without extraction ventilation or use of protective equipment.

William Anelay, of Murton Way, Osbaldwick, had employed the two stonemasons for many years and high levels of airborne silica were identified 14 years before the case was brought, but measures previously taken to protect workers were inadequate, York Crown Court heard.

The victims’ disabilities were so severe that one took early retirement and the other was unable to work as a stonemason. HSE Inspector Julian Franklin said: “Had the company acted on the information they received after a survey in 1994, these men may not now be suffering from serious illnesses.”

We provide a full range of air sampling and COSHH assessment services covering welding fume, solvent vapours, solder fume, tributyl phosphate and almost any other substance used in the workplace. Call us to clear common sense advice on your COSHH risk assessment needs.

Could the era of no win no fee soon be at an end?

As most businesses will already be aware, at present a person who has suffered some loss can bring a personal injury compensation claim with no financial risk to themselves whatsoever. If they win the defendant pays the solicitor’s costs and fees, including a special bonus – the “success fee”. If they lose their solicitor agrees not to charge you for their work – the no win no fee arrangement.

In addition, their solicitor will have arranged an after-the-event insurance policy (ATE insurance) which will pay for medical reports, court fees, mediator’s fee and the defendant’s costs which normally they would pay if they lost the case. Further if they win, the defendants have to pay the premium for the ATE insurance (which may be thousands of pounds) and if they lose the premium is self-insuring so they don’t have to pay for it then either.

However, all of this could be set to change. Lord Jackson has completed a review of personal injury litigation costs and has recommended that ATE premiums are no longer payable by defendants who lose personal injury claims. Also he has proposed that the success fee – instead of being paid to the claimant’s solicitor by the defendant – is paid by the claimant out of the their compensation. Hence if you win there is a fee.

Whilst it is true that these proposals are revolutionary they do have the strong backing of the senior judges so it is likely that they will be put in to force in the not too distant future. Rest assured that we will keep you posted on any further developments.

If you need any help or assistance with health and safety our expert health and safety consultants can help you From health and safety policy development to noise and COSHH risk assessment, safety audits and staff development, just call us on 01453 800100 or visit us at www.outsource-safety.co.uk. We also provide safety services to the construction industry including CDM Coordinator, construction site safety visits, method statement and risk assessment development and health and safety policy work.

If you’ve got questions or need support on safety in the industrial, contracting or construction sectors please contact us for sensible and proportionate advice on 01453 800100

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