Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

Based in the West Midlands? How is your Construction site safety?
Posted by David Cant on February 6, 2014

Construction Health and safety InspectionsThe Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced plans to target building sites in the West Midlands in a drive to reduce “death, injury and ill health” in the industry. The campaign is running throughout the month of February and will involve inspectors checking other aspects of employee protection that are often regarded as “less important” than physical safety.

Unannounced visits by HSE inspectors will look at a range of issues including:

  • Manual handling.
  • The correct use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
  • Face-fit testing of respiratory equipment.
  • Manual handling.
  • Noise and vibration.
  • Dermatitis.
  • General welfare provisions.

Most employers are fully aware of their PPE responsibilities for instance, but there are concerns that many sites operators are failing to properly consider the other, more complex health and safety factors.

How is your hot water?

Every site inspected will be checked for the provision of hot, running water for instance. Inspectors need to be sure that employees are being provided with adequate resources to wash substances from their skin. Cement dust is known to cause dermatitis when left in contact with skin, reinforcing the importance of hot water provisions.

How well does your PPE fit?

Site operators already recognise the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) and issue employees with the correct gear required to keep them safe as they do their jobs. However PPE needs to be regularly checked to ensure that it has not been compromised in some way, and that it still fits properly.

The HSE inspectors have announced plans to check respiratory equipment for instance because an ill-fitting mask leaves the wearer at risk of inhaling poisonous fumes or particles – any protection provided by such equipment is minimised.

How is PPE being used?

Operators of loud plant equipment should already be using ear defenders to protect their ears as they work. But what of their colleagues working nearby?

HSE inspectors assess the use of PPE across your entire site by all employees and will take note of instances where staff may be exposing themselves to unacceptable risks. In the event that all staff working near loud equipment (not just those using it), have not been issued with the correct PPE, your business could be found to be at fault and prosecuted accordingly.

The HSE hopes to use these inspections as a way of engaging businesses in improving site safety for their staff, and to drive down the rates of injury in the building trade. As such, businesses found to be guilty of minor breaches are expected only to receive practical guidance on raising standards. Where inspectors discover employees being placed at significant risk, the consequences will be stiffer.

Be prepared

Although there is no guarantee that HSE inspectors will be visiting your site (all inspections are unannounced), operators in the West Midlands should take this opportunity to review their own onsite safety provisions to ensure they are fully compliant with requirements. Even sites where everything is believed to be fully compliant will benefit from a periodic review which may highlight some previously unidentified poor working practices.

Having a third party assess your health and safety provisions helps to identify potential problems that may be otherwise missed by regular staff who become accustomed to the idiosyncrasies of the site and its operations. If you need help with your site, or just a second opinion, give the Veritas Consulting team a call today on 0800 1488 677.

Has your business been visited by the HSE recently? What was the outcome? Leave us a comment with your experiences below.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Competent Person Service, Construction Health and Safety, CSCS Card Tests, Health and Safety Consultancy, Health and Safety Services

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