HSE’s inspectors across Great Britain will be targeting construction firms to check that their health standards are up to scratch during a month-long inspection initiative, starting on Monday 4 October 2021. 

This year inspections will focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease, looking at the control measures businesses have in place to protect their workers’ lungs from construction dust including silica, asbestos and wood dust. This is part of HSE’s longer term health and work strategy to improve health within the construction industry. 

While the primary focus will be on health during this programme of inspections, if an inspector identifies any other areas of concern, including immediate safety risks, they will take the necessary action to deal with them.  

Inspectors will be looking for evidence of employers and workers knowing the risks, planning their work and using the right controls. If necessary, they will use enforcement to make sure people are protected. 

The initiative will be supported by HSE’s WorkRight campaign, aimed at influencing employer behaviour by encouraging builders to download free guidance and advice, increasing knowledge and capability to protect workers’ health.  

More than 3,500 builders die each year from cancers related to their work, with thousands more cases of ill-health and working days lost. 

HSE’s chief inspector of construction, Sarah Jardine, said: “Around 100 times as many workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are actually killed in construction accidents. 

“Our inspection initiatives ensure that inspectors are able to speak to duty holders and visit sites to look at the kind of action businesses in the construction industry are taking right now to protect their workers’ health, particularly when it comes to exposure to dust and damage to lungs. These are mature health challenges that the industry ought to be managing effectively. 

“There are a few simple things that everyone can do to make sure they are protecting their health and their future. Be aware of the risks associated with activities you do every day, recognise the dangers of hazardous dust and consider how it can affect your health. We want businesses and their workers to think of the job from start to finish and avoid creating dust by working in different ways to keep dust down and wear the right protective equipment.” 

HSE is being supported by the Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG) and Tier 1 industry contractors. Throughout October 2021, HCLG members will carry out more than 1,000 site visits to assess the effectiveness of measures in place to controls workers’ exposure to respiratory risks from dust. Findings from site visits and a survey will allow industry to feed into HSE’s broader commitment to improve the health of construction workers by providing HSE with a wider dataset to evaluate ongoing practices across industry. 

HSE and industry Insights will support HSE’s strategic plan to broaden the range and depth of future regulatory health interventions. 

For more information on the programme of inspections visit the Work Right campaign website: https://workright.campaign.gov.uk/campaigns/construction-dust/ 

As reported in: HSE Media

Construction company Peter Duffy Ltd was sentenced today for safety breaches after multiple employees were diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration (HAVS).

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that the company reported seven cases of HAVS between November 2016 and August 2018. All of the workers involved had been carrying out ground works involving vibrating tools. Many of them had been working in the industry for over 20 years.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that in 2016 the company contracted a new occupational health provider to replace their existing one. The diagnosis of the workers’ conditions resulted from these changes. Prior to the new company taking over the contract, there was no suitable health surveillance in place to identify HAVS.

Peter Duffy Ltd of Park View, Lofthouse, Wakefield pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £3,919 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Chris Tilley said: “The company should have undertaken a suitable and sufficient risk assessment to identify the level of vibration employees were exposed to throughout their working day and then put in place appropriate control measures.

“Furthermore, the company should have put in place suitable health surveillance to identify HAVS in their workforce”

As Reported on:  HSE Media

Hovington Limited was sentenced today for safety breaches after a worker was struck by a falling piece of plant machinery while working on a construction site in Rotherham.

Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard that, on 4 February 2019, groundworkers, including the injured person, were breaking out ground using a 13 tonne 360 excavator with a hydraulic breaker attached to an automatic quick hitch, as part of trench work to install new drainage of the site at Arconic Forging and Extrusions, Sheffield Road, Ickles, Rotherham. The breaker became detached from the quick hitch on the excavator. The breaker fell, narrowly missing one ground worker, and landed on the injured worker’s right foot. He sustained injuries which led to amputation of his right leg below the knee.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company failed to ensure that a safe method of work was in place when working in the vicinity of an excavator, there was no defined segregation between people and plant, and no use of a vehicle plant marshal to ensure the machine was isolated before pedestrians enter the working zone of the excavator. The company also failed to implement a dedicated bucket changing area for the changing of attachments to minimise the risk of attachments falling onto pedestrians.

Hovington Limited of Chichester Street, Rochdale pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined £34,000 and ordered to pay £1,935.84 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Trisha Elvy commented: “This incident could have easily resulted in a fatality and could have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“There should be suitable, defined safe systems of work so that persons who need to work in close proximity to excavators can do so safely.”

As reported: HSE Media

Health and safety in construction is one of the most popular guides to Construction Health and Safety with the firsts two editions selling in excess of 250,000 copies.

It has been updated and expanded in the light of new legislation, in particular the Work at Height Regulations 2005.  It also features new information on recent advances and examples of good practice in the construction industry.  The book is primarily aimed at the small contractor but equally applies to everyone involved in construction, employers & employees.

It provides help and assistance on how to work safely on most tasks you will encounter.  It will also help to identify the main causes of accidents and ill health and explains how to eliminate hazards and control risks. The guidance is simple but comprehensive and the solutions are straightforward and easy to adopt.  It is also an excellent source of revision!

Edition three of this popular book can be downloaded free from the HSE website – here.

London and Essex Property Partnership Ltd, principal contractor Ludovic Calo and commercial client Richard Balls were involved in the construction of two semi-detached houses at Central Wall Road, Canvey Island. Basildon Crown Court heard how health and safety concerns were raised by members of the public and the HSE visited the site on five separate occasions between 26 July 2017 and 23 March 2018. It identified ongoing health and safety breaches relating to work at height, site welfare and security, as well as an accumulation of domestic and construction waste on site.

There were also reports that bricks had fallen from the scaffold, and the building’s gable end wall apex section had at one point collapsed onto the neighbouring property. Despite HSE serving a number of enforcement notices and notification of contravention letters, serious breaches of health and safety law continued and there was a failure to comply with the enforcement notices.

An investigation by HSE found the project’s joint clients, Richard Balls and London and Essex Property Partnership Ltd had failed to make suitable arrangements to manage the project. They did not ensure the principal contractor complied with his duties under the Construction Design and Management Regulations, and in Richard Ball’s case, did not comply with one HSE improvement notice issued to improve health and safety standards on the site. The project’s principal contractor, Ludovic Calo, failed to plan, manage, and monitor effectively to ensure the construction work was carried out safely, failed to ensure work at height was properly planned and carried out safely, failed to take suitable measures to prevent the fall of materials from the scaffold and did not comply with two HSE-issued improvement notices served to improve health and safety standards on the site.

Ludovic Calo of Kitchener Road, Walthamstow was found guilty of breaching Regulation 13(1) of The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015; Sections 4(1) and 10(1) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005; and two charges under Section 21 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He received a 29 week suspended custodial sentence, 3 months electronic curfew 9pm-6am and ordered to pay costs of £5,000.

Richard Balls, of Henham, Bishops Stortford was found guilty of breaching Sections 4(1) and 4(3) of The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, and Section 21 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He received a 29 week suspended custodial sentence, 3 months electronic curfew 9pm-6am and ordered to pay costs of £5,000.

London & Essex Property Partnership Ltd of Scratton Road, Stanford Le Hope were found guilty of breaching Sections 4(3) and 4(6)(b) of The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The company was  fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Glyn Davies said: “Property developers and construction firms should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to prosecute those who fall below the required standards, especially where advice and enforcement fails to improve their management of health and safety.

“Commercial clients and principal contractors have significant and wide-ranging duties to comply with construction health and safety law, and it is not acceptable to cut costs and maximise profit at the expense of putting people at risk.”

As reported by: SHPonline

Specialist plant hire company, Ruislip Plant Ltd, has been fined after a worker was fatally injured whilst undertaking maintenance on a piling rig.

Reading Crown Court heard that, on 13 May 2014, Ben Wylie, was assisting the Ruislip Plant Ltd Director Mr Noel Kearney (since deceased) with the maintenance of a high-pressure grease track adjusting mechanism at a construction site in West Street, Maidenhead. During the process, the grease nipple assembly and a stream of high-pressure grease was forcibly ejected from the mechanism and struck Ben Wylie in the shoulder and chest causing fatal injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the components had been forcibly ejected on the previous day and had sustained damage in that event, reducing the pressure at which it would subsequently fail. Once the fitting had been ejected, it should not have been refitted. Despite the fittings having been previously ejected and damaged, Mr Kearney attempted to modify and refit the grease nipple and adaptor to the high-pressure system. He then began to re-pressurise the tracks by pumping in grease using a hand operated grease gun. The pressure built in the system and at a critical point the damaged and modified components were again ejected. A pressure test with all suitable safeguards was required in these circumstances but there was no safe system of work during which resulted in the modifications to the grease gun bringing Ben Wylie into the danger zone.

Ruislip Plant Ltd of Lea Crescent, Ruislip, Middlesex pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company has been fined £99,000 and ordered to pay costs of £116, 973.36.

After the hearing, HSE inspector John Glynn said: “HSE guidance is very specific on how this work should be undertaken and previously ejected or damaged parts must not be reused as they were in this case.
“This incident could have been avoided if Ruislip Plant Ltd had instead undertaken a risk assessment and devised a safe system of work. That safe system of work would necessarily have ensured that new parts were used, and that the safety procedure of a pressure test was performed. However, a new component was not used in this incident and the safety procedure was not adhered to.

“That failure to adhere to the correct procedure for pressure testing was directly causative of this incident. No control measures were put in place by Ruislip Plant Limited and that sadly led to the death of Ben Wylie.”

As reported on: HSE Media.

Walden Builders Ltd has been sentenced after a worker was struck by a heated sheet of tin.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard how on 18 September 2018, the company was demolishing an outbuilding in Littlethorpe, Ripon. During the demolition, the excavator being used struck a wall containing a 415v cable causing it to arc and ignite a fire. Efforts to put out the fire included holding a sheet of tin to shield the surroundings. The tin heated and dropped onto an operative who was working on the site causing burn injuries to the scalp, arm and hands.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had received a quote from Northern Power Grid for installation of new service termination equipment. The company failed to act on the quote and instruct the power company to terminate supply to the building.

Walden Builders Ltd of Green Croft, Pottery Lane, Littlethorpe, Ripon pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined £42,000 and ordered to pay £4,707 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Thompson said: “The company should have ensured that there was no live power to the building prior to the start of demolition work. The company had failed to prepare a written plan for the demolition of the building or any site-specific risk assessments.

“This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.”

The HSE publish a guide to undertaking such activities the right way here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/demolition.htm

A construction company has been sentenced after a self-employed ground worker sustained life changing injuries in an incident involving a disc cutter.

Truro Crown Court heard how on 1 June 2017, self-employed ground worker Morgan Prosser, contracted by MJL Contractors Limited, was working to complete ground works at a new building site near Bodmin, Cornwall. Mr Prosser was using a petrol disc cutter to cut reinforced concrete beams to size. Whilst he was doing this the saw ‘kicked up’ and caused a severe laceration to his arm. Mr Prosser underwent months of operations following the incident to try to save his arm. However, it had to be amputated In October 2017, which has had a significant impact on his ability to work and his personal life.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that MJL Contractors Limited were responsible for the groundworks at the site, including providing and maintaining the disc cutter. Mr Prosser had not been sufficiently trained to use the petrol disc cutter and the system of work in use for cutting reinforced concrete beams had not been planned or assessed to ensure the risks were properly controlled.

MJL should have been aware that Mr Prosser had no previous experience of undertaking such a task and this should have been identified and addressed at his induction or at the time the work was allocated to him to complete.

 

MJL Contractors Limited of Hellys Court, Helston in Cornwall, were found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. They have been fined £250,000 and ordered to pay costs of £100,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Georgina Symons said: “The contractor’s injuries have been life changing. This serious incident could have easily been avoided if basic safeguards had been put in place.”

The legislation that allows the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to impose a levy on the industry requires that it undertakes wide consultation every three years.  This is to confirm that the construction industry is happy to continue putting  money into a collective pot and whether there is still a consensus in support of the CITB.  In the old days, the CITB focus was in providing industry related training where as now it is responsible for administering the money.

An initial consultation on levy proposals will run from 1st  March – 11th April 2021 and once feedback on the draft levy proposals has been gathered, the official consensus exercise will take place from 14th June until Sunday 15th August.

The triennial consensus was due in 2020. The process started and questionnaires went out but then came lockdown and necessary follow-up interviews were cancelled. Instead, emergency powers were invoked and the secretary of state renewed the levy order regardless.

CITB chief executive Sarah Beale said: “From your feedback we know now is the right time to proceed with running consensus. We’re looking forward to talking with businesses from across the sector to understand their views, and explaining how we’ll use their money to provide the training and the skills that the industry needs.”

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders, said: “We’ve been calling for consensus to go ahead for some time now and expressed our great dismay when it was postponed the first time. Now members will have the chance to hold CITB to account, examine their plans and proposals for levy in the future and have their say. The consensus process is an essential part of ensuring the industry has confidence in CITB’s ability to deliver the skills our industry so desperately needs. We welcome the confirmation that consensus will go ahead and will do all we can to ensure as many members engage in this process as possible.”

Levy registered employers can take part in the initial consultation from Monday 1st March to Sunday 11th April at www.citb.co.uk/levyconsultation.

Employers can register for virtual events at www.citb.co.uk/spring2021events.

For details of the consensus process itself, see: www.citb.co.uk/consensus2021.

As reported on: TheConstructionIndex.