Figures obtained by construction union UCATT have revealed an 8.7 per cent drop in the number of unannounced Health and Safety Executive (HSE) safety visits to construction sites. A Freedom of Information request by the union uncovered the fact that, in 2014/15, the total number of HSE inspections was 9,656 compared with 10,577 for 2012/13.
Scotland saw the biggest reduction with a drop of 55.7 per cent in inspections. There were also large decreases in the North East 28.5 per cent, North West 32.5 per cent, the South East 19.6 per cent, although Wales saw a smaller downturn of just 3.4 per cent.
However, a number of English regions saw an increase in inspections and overall the reduction for England was 2 per cent.
Brian Rye, Acting General Secretary of UCATT, said: “This fall in inspection activity is deeply troubling.
“The prospect of an unexpected knock on the door by a construction inspector is what keeps many employers on their toes.
“If employers believe that their safety procedures are not going to be checked this will lead to slackness and corners being cut. Workers could pay with their lives.”
Lara Murray, a health and safety legal specialist with Palmers, said: “I echo the union’s concerns. Companies need to remember that health and safety regulations are in place to keep workers safe, which in turn leads to less down-time due to untoward incidents and ultimately greater productivity.
“The construction industry, which once had the unenviable reputation of being amongst the most dangerous sectors in which to work, has made huge strides forward in recent years.
“This momentum of good health and safety practice needs to continue and, regardless of the potential threat of a surprise HSE safety visit, construction company bosses owe it both to themselves and their workers, to act responsibly and ensure they are complaint.”
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