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Small construction site operators hold low opinion of HSE

Research into how small construction sites operate and what they think has been revealed in a new report published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The HSE commissioned the report after realising the reduction in construction industry-related fatalities since 2000, were the result of the HSE's positive influence on large construction firms but not on smaller site operators.

Sites with five or fewer employees throughout the UK became the focus of the HSE’s small sites research (carried out between January 26-February 9, 2009). On the whole the respondents do not hold the HSE in high esteem but said they do pay attention to rules which are enforced with strict sanctions.

Additionally, none of the respondents surveyed had been visited by a HSE inspector at a site with five or fewer workers, but said they had seen HSE inspectors only when working on larger sites.

Many believed only the threat of serious sanctions would positively affect the behaviour of those working unsafely.

The research, involving one hour face-to-face interviews with individuals in charge of sites, revealed a 'widespread belief' that regulations are different and not applicable if there are fewer than five workers on site.

One respondent said 'I'm not stupid enough to do things that are wrong. It's common sense. Why would you have to write it down? I feel that its all really about covering someone's back - proving that you have done the right thing'.

Most questioned did not equate compliance with health and safety regulations with safe working practices.

The HSE found decisions as to whether to mitigate or reduce risk is taken based on:

Time it will take

Cost

Availability of PPE or other equipment

The degree of inconvenience

The visibility of the site

The closeness to completion of the job

Thiose interviewed said construction site accidents were not caused by hazards but by untidyness, rushing, laziness, inexperience or just plain bad luck.

The HSE said it is considering increasing visits to small sites.

Following the reports findings, the health and safety body is also considering mounting a campaign based around the importance of close working relationships, the value of experience, tidiness, removal of hazards and the dangers of rushing, over-confidence and a false sense of security.

To see the report read HSEreport
29 July 2009

Comments

By Louise Sharp (General Manager Build Svcs)
29 July 2009 01:01:00

It is about time individuals are held responsible for there own actions.

Health and safety combined with "no win no fee" solicitors will destroy British industry and make the UK uncompetitive in the world market place.
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