Most construction firms would fail or ‘scrape through’ HSE inspections

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Two thirds of construction companies say they would fail or might only “scrape through” an on-the-spot site inspection by the Health and Safety Executive, a survey has found.

Asked why they would fail or scrape through, the most common answers were a shortage of correctly skilled workers (40%) and a lack of accurate recording of matters including staff training, equipment testing, site compliance, accidents at work (36%).

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Employment law: health and safety duties

One third of respondents said they were very confident of passing a formal HSE inspection – 36% of large firms vs 30% of SMEs.

The Health & Safety at Work Act requires building firms to keep an accurate, up-to-date record of all health and safety matters from personnel training and qualifications to equipment maintenance, to site safety and incident reports. All need to be immediately available to the HSE upon inspection.

The study by health and safety management platform Safetybank found that 36% admit to inaccurately recording health and safety compliance matters, with 17% still recording and filing health and safety data by hand.

Nearly a third (30%) of construction companies surveyed are not yet meeting ISO 45001 – the standard for management systems of occupational health and safety introduced last year. One in six (17%) are unsure what the new standard is, or if the company is compliant.

Michelle Di Gioia, partner at law firm Gardner Leader, said: “Without thorough records an organisation will not be able to show that it has ensured, insofar as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare of its employees and visitors to the premises.

“Health and safety fines are increasing and the HSE charges for its time in identifying and investigating breaches”.

Lucien Wynn, chief operating officer at Olive Communications, parent company of Safetybank, said: “Ensuring that all health and safety compliance records are accurately stored and kept up to date can be a logistical nightmare for health and safety directors. They often have multiple site projects on the go, using various subcontractors who can have hundreds of workers, and the construction organisation is accountable for the safety of each and every one.

“We often hear how H&S directors rely on the word of the site manager or employee that compliance records are accurate and up to date, rather than being able to check for themselves due to an archaic and inaccurate data management system that isn’t centralised or easily accessible.”

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