24 October 2018

Time to put your house in order: Construction firms targeted in new Health and Safety Executive Inspections

On 1 October 2018 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced that construction firms across the UK will be targeted on their health and safety standards.  The announcement comes almost exactly a year (2 October 2017) after the HSE launched a targeted campaign with the aim of reducing the level of harm caused by the construction industry’s management of risks.

The construction industry is very much under the HSE’s spotlight. The 2017 campaign found that injuries were mainly found to be caused due to cost cutting and inappropriate protection initiatives for workers.  Around 2000 inspections were undertaken resulting in action being taken at almost half the visits to address the issues found.

The current campaign will be the first time the regulator has targeted the industry with a specific focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease.  Specifically the HSE will be focussing on the measures businesses have in place to protect their workers from the risks associated with asbestos, silica and wood dust.

The announcement also comes at a politically interesting time: Theresa May used her closing speech at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham to announce that she is removing the cap on the amount Councils can borrow to build homes.  This should mean significantly increased construction activity in the near term and provide fertile ground for future HSE campaigns in the construction sector.

Implications:

Now would be an ideal time to review your health and safety policies and procedures and we can help you if you need assistance in this regard. While the primary focus will be on health, if the HSE sees any issues of concern during their visits they will take the necessary enforcement action to deal with this.
It is worth noting that the HSE is entitled to charge £129 per hour for their inspections (known as ‘Fee for Intervention’) if they find a ‘material breach’ during their visit.  We have routinely found companies facing invoices of tens of thousands of pounds (and occasionally running into six figures).

If you are in receipt of a ‘Notice of Contravention’, ‘Improvement Notice’, ‘Prohibition Notice’ or a ‘Fee for Intervention’ invoice please contact us as soon as possible as there are strict time limits to appeal such notices.

Find out more about the HSE’s approach and other issues facing the industry at HCR’s Annual Construction and Engineering Conference on 8 November 2018 in Cheltenham. For further details and to book click here.

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About the Author
Kamal Chauhan, Partner
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