Site visits to cut accidents

BUILDING sites are being put under the safety spotlight in a bid to reduce deaths, injuries and ill health.

From today until March 16, inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will be visiting sites across the Teesside area where refurbishment or repair works are being carried out.

It is part of a Great Britain-wide, month-long drive to improve standards in one of Britain’s most dangerous industries.

The primary aim is to target high-risk activity such as working at height and also “good order”, such as ensuring sites are clean and tidy, with clear access routes.

Inspectors hope the initiative will remind those working in construction that poor standards are unacceptable and can result in enforcement action.

During 2010/11, there were no deaths but more than 23 serious injuries were reported on Teesside. There were two deaths and 132 serious injuries across the North East as a whole.

Rob Hirst, HSE’s principal inspector for construction in the region, said: “The refurbishment sector continues to be the most risky for construction workers, all too often straightforward practical precautions are not considered and workers are put at risk.

“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.”

HSE has prosecuted several construction companies in recent months following incidents in which workers were injured.

They include a North Yorkshire firm and its boss who were fined a total of £4,500 with costs of £1,150 after a worker suffered a smashed left heel and broken right ankle. He had fallen 15ft while working on the construction of a new farm building near Billingham.