40% of construction sites H & S fail

40% of construction sites fail Health and Safety spot-checks

HSE is urging the construction industry to ensure basic health and safety measures are in place after a month long inspection initiative found 40 per cent of sites failing to properly protect workers.

Unacceptable conditions and dangerous practices were found at nearly half of the 1,748 repair and refurbishment sites visited by HSE inspectors, with 1 in 5 sites so poor, formal enforcement action was required. Many of the issues found could have been easily prevented with simple, straightforward management and planning.

The focus of the initiative was on health risks and 35 per cent of the notices served were for issues such as management of asbestos, failure to control exposure to harmful dusts, noise and vibration, and insufficient welfare.

However failure to provide basic safety measures for people working at height was once again the most common issue found by Inspectors with 42 per cent of all enforcement notices served for this activity.

HSE’s Chief of Construction Philip White said:

“These results show that whilst the majority of employers in the refurbishment sector are getting it right, a significant part of the industry is seriously failing its workers.

“The inability to properly plan working at height continues to be a major issue, despite well-known safety measures being straightforward to implement.  It is just not acceptable that Inspectors had to order work to stop immediately on over 200 occasions because of dangerous practices.

“We also find health is often overlooked as its implications are not immediately visible, however the effects of uncontrolled exposure to deadly dusts such as asbestos and silica can be irreversible. We urge industry to ensure the most basic of measures such as use of protective equipment and dust suppression methods are put in place to help protect the future health of workers.

“We need to continue to educate industry through initiatives like this and encourage a change in behaviour on small projects where over half the industry’s fatal accidents still occur and many workers become seriously ill.”

For examples of good and bad practice Inspectors found during the campaign visit HSE’s  Safersites 2014 Pinterest gallery.

You can also view HSE’s set of instructional film clips on working safely with dust here.

Thanks to HSE for this article.  For the full article click here.

Tower crane slew brakes – Safety Bulletin

HSE investigations into the collapse of two tower crane jibs has identified that there were problems with adequate maintenance of the slew brakes release mechanisms.

The purpose of this safety alert is to advise owners and users of steps to be taken to ensure that tower crane slew brake release mechanisms are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair. The emerging findings from the HSE investigations indicate that the operational efficiency was compromised by lack of maintenance, in particular, insufficient lubrication of the slew brake release mechanism. This alert provides supplementary information to HSE Health and safety bulletin FOD 2-2014.  Preventing catastrophic failure of luffing jib tower cranes in high winds.

Background:

Tower crane jibs are designed to free slew when out of service to avoid high loadings being placed on the crane structure and foundations with risk of failure or collapse. In order that a tower crane can be placed in the out of service condition it is essential that the slew brake release mechanism is maintained in an efficient state.

Failure to maintain the release mechanism can result in the operator being unable to fully release the slew brake when placing the crane in the out of service condition or the operator thinking that the slew brake is fully released when it is still partially engaged. If the brake is not fully released the upper slewing structure will not be able to slew freely in response to changing wind directions. This could result in the jib or whole crane collapsing in strong winds.

Action required:

Owners and users of tower cranes should ensure that tower crane slew brake release mechanisms are inspected and maintained in line with instructions issued by the manufacturer. Where crane manuals do not stipulate release mechanism maintenance instructions the manufacturers should be asked to provide details.

Instruction should be provided to operators and maintenance personnel as to how slew brake release mechanisms should be checked, inspected and maintained. This should include information, where necessary, as to the type of lubrication and the frequency and method of applying lubrication to the release mechanism.

Supervisory checks should confirm that personnel are correctly carrying out their instructions and the crane is being placed in free slew when left out of service. Persons carrying out Thorough Examinations should also confirm the correct function of the slew brake release mechanism.

Safety Bulletin with thanks to HSE.gov.uk.  Read full article here.

Campaign to cut work cancer deaths launched

An industry-wide campaign to cut the number of deaths from occupational cancer will be launched today (Monday 3rd November).

According to conservative estimates, some 8,000 people die from cancer and around 14,000 contract the disease each year in the UK because of exposure to a work-related carcinogen, such as diesel exhaust fumes, silica dust or asbestos fibres. Worldwide, occupational cancer claims the lives of more than 666,000 a year – one death every 47 seconds.

The figures far outstrip those for fatal incidents in the workplace, but the invisibility of carcinogens, the long latency of their effects and a lack of knowledge continue to produce this staggeringly high number of preventable deaths and cancer registrations.

Led by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and backed by business leaders, academics and charity Macmillan Cancer Support, the No Time to Lose campaign will call for a collaboration of government and employers “to beat occupational cancer”.

For more information see www.notimetolose.org.uk or read the full article here.