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HSE crackdown halts building work

Work was halted on construction sites in Newcastle last week as part of a HSE crackdown on unsafe practices.
Inspectors visited 24 contractors engaged on refurbishment sites in the city and served four prohibition notices, effectively stopping work due to concerns about working at height and electrical issues.

Two improvement notices were also issued to contractors where there was a lack of adequate welfare facilities and the use of stepladders without carrying out a risk assessment.

It is the second time this year that HSE inspectors have carried out random checks on the refurbishment sector, where the number of deaths rose by 61% last year.

HSE Inspector, Jonathan Wills, said: 'Site safety should be paramount and the simple answer is that too many sites allow bad practices to continue.

'Working at height remains the biggest concern and is the single greatest cause of workplace fatalities, while slips and trips are the most common cause of serious injury.

'The construction industry is a challenging environment with a mobile workforce moving from site to site, many with a poor understanding of the problems. But it is up to us all to ensure that they have a safe working environment and receive the proper training so that their lives are not put at risk.'

During the randon inspections, HSE inspectors assessed whether:

1)jobs that involve working at height had been identified and properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions were in place

2)equipment was correctly installed/assembled, inspected, maintained and used properly

3)sites were organised to avoid trips and falls

4)walkways and stairs were free from obstructions

5)work areas were clear of unnecessary materials and waste

If individuals or businesses don't follow the prohibition notices they risk prosecution in magistrates courts with a maximum fine is £20,000.

If the case goes to a Crown court the fine could be higher.
Nine weeks after a notice is issued, (to account for the appeals process) the HSE publishes it on its website.
To view all enforcement notices issued by the HSE in the last five years go to www.hse.gov.uk/notices/
26 June 2008

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