The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced its priorities for construction inspectors over the coming year. It’s clear from this plan of work that budget cuts are biting at the HSE. Compared with the 2012/13 plan there’s less emphasis on the HSE’s role in developing industry standards with partners and more on core activities. Having fewer project areas than last year will free up the HSE’s tight resources for inspections. And, as we’ve pointed out previously, with 60% of all visits resulting in a fee for intervention (FFI) invoice, there’s unlikely to be any reduction in the number of site inspections.
In 2013/14 inspectors will continue to target asbestos removal works, small sites/projects and refurbishments, large contractors and sites, and clients. In addition local HSE offices will be able to decide upon local priorities and target them.
Recognising that small sites contributed 70% of the 50 fatalities in 2011/12, the HSE says that 35% of its resources will be put in to inspecting smaller projects (an increase of 5%).
Whilst visiting sites HSE inspectors will address situations presenting an evident risk to life as well as the following generic issues. These are:
- Work at height;
- Asbestos risks;
- Provision of welfare facilities;
- Site conditions (good order);
- Respiratory risks and adequacy of PPE use.
The subtle addition to the above list since last year is “adequacy of PPE use”. This is due to the recent repeal of the Construction (Head Protection) Regulations 1989. Hard hats must continue to be worn on site and inspectors will be checking compliance with the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.
Still on the radar are the management arrangements for health and safety, particularly:
- The effectiveness of leadership by directors and senior managers;
- The management of health risks;
- Involving workers in site safety;
- The competency of organisations and individuals; and
- The management of temporary works.
The main focus areas are the same as in previous years – work at height, asbestos, welfare facilities, good order and respiratory risks. Dropping your guard on these is likely to cost you under the Fee for Intervention Scheme and despite cuts to its budget, the HSE has made it clear that there will be no reduction in the number of inspections.
By Ken Stevens