Building sites face safety blitz

DANGEROUS building sites in Rotherham are this week in the sights of a new blitz by safety experts.

Over the next three weeks, construction sites across Rotherham and South Yorkshire will be visited as part of an intensive inspection initiative aimed at reducing death and injury in one of Britain’s most dangerous industries.   

Inspectors will make unannounced visits to ensure that Rotherham site managers are ensuring that workers are safe and check that the risk of exposure to asbestos is being properly managed.

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The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is focusing on construction sites carrying out refurbishment and maintenance as nearly three quarters of deaths happen in this side of the construction business.

During 2009/10, nearly 250 workers were seriously injured while working on refurbishment, repair and maintenance activities across the county, compared with 833 injuries in Yorkshire & the Humber as a whole.

Two men were fatally injured in South Yorkshire—both while working at height—and six deaths were recorded in the region.


The inspections will target a range of building work from domestic roofing jobs to larger industrial unit renovations.

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Last year, HSE inspectors visited more than 150 sites and 180 contractors in a four-week campaign in Yorkshire & the Humber.

As a result, they issued 34 Prohibition Notices to stop dangerous work— much of it relating to working from height—and served over 50 improvement notices.

David Redman, principal inspector for construction for the HSE in South Yorkshire, said: “This will be the fifth year that we have run the inspection initiative and we anticipate that that we will see examples of good practice, where employers are taking the right steps to protect their workers, and bad, where safety comes too far down the list of priorities.

“Poor control of risks in this industry is unacceptable, especially when many of the incidents can be avoided through simple precautions.

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“As we have demonstrated in the past, we will take strong action if we find evidence that workers are being unnecessarily put at risk.

“We will also be checking to make sure that the health risks from asbestos are being addressed.

“We will be asking if asbestos surveys have been done before refurbishment starts.

“Many workers believe that because asbestos has been banned as a building material, it is no longer a threat but that is untrue.

“Any premises built or refurbished before 2000 could contain asbestos.”