Nearly one construction site in five visited by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors in a month-long initiative was subject to enforcement action after failing safety checks.
The inspectors visited 2,363 sites throughout the country where refurbishment or repair projects were taking place and examined the practices of 2,976 contractors.
The HSE said in March that a total of 631 enforcement notices had been served at 433 sites for poor practices that could put workers at risk, with 451 notices ordering work to stop immediately until the safety concerns were addressed.
HSE chief inspector of construction Philip White said: “This initiative has again shown us that the majority of construction employers do take their responsibilities to their workers seriously.
“However, our inspectors also encountered numerous examples of poor practice – from a lack of edge protection on stairwells and scaffolding to unsafe storage of flammable materials and inadequate personal protective equipment. None of these are acceptable on a modern construction site.”
According to the HSE, during 2011/12, 49 workers were killed while working in the construction industry and a further 2,884 major injuries were reported.
The news came as construction union Ucatt expressed growing concern about the Government’s plans to reprioritise the cutting of health and safety red tape this summer.
In the March 2013 Budget, the Chancellor, George Osborne, confirmed that the coalition intended to launch a second phase of its “Red Tape Challenge” this summer.
Steve Murphy, general secretary of Ucatt, said: “The Red Tape Challenge has been used to cynically attack workers’ rights and safety laws. A second phase is likely to be even worse.”