HSE Inspectors Find Many Renovation Firms Substandard

Forty-six percent of inspected sites fell short, according to the British agency.

The chief inspector of construction at Britain's Health and Safety Executive this week challenged the country's renovation companies to do a better job of protecting their workers, after 46 percent of sites were found to be substandard during a recent inspection initiative. HSE inspectors visited 1,908 sites and inspected more than 2,381 contractors, targeting small renovation jobs,s during the month-long drive and issued 692 enforcement notices and 983 notifications of contravention because of significant violations and immediate risks, such as working at height and exposures to silica dust and asbestos.

"It is disappointing that some small refurbishment sites are still cutting corners and not properly protecting their workers. Falls from height are the most common killer in the industry, but we still found workers put at risk to save minutes on the job, believing it wouldn't happen to them," said Peter Baker, the chief inspector. "The misconception that health issues cannot be controlled is simply not true and [is] ruining people's lives. Harmful dust, whether silica or wood, is a serious issue and can be managed effectively with the right design, equipment, and training. Health effects may not be immediate but the ultimate impact on workers and their families can be devastating. Each week 100 construction workers die from occupational [causes]."

"HSE inspectors found lots of good examples of small sites carrying out work safely, proving it can be done," he added. "Larger construction sites accepted the challenge a few years ago and have made big improvements, which all of the industry can learn from. My message to smaller businesses is don't wait for an accident or visit from an inspector before you make the change, but act now and learn from your colleagues' example."

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