Journalist, SHP Online

March 9, 2016

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Figures reveal fall in construction inspections

Figures obtained by construction union UCATT have revealed a decline in the number of inspections that the Health and Safety Executive are undertaking on construction sites, with Scotland seeing the biggest reduction with a drop of 55.7% in inspections.

Brian Rye, Acting General Secretary of UCATT, said that the fall in inspection activity is “deeply troubling” adding that the HSE needed to explain the reason behind the drop.

UCATT made a Freedom of Information request to discover the number of proactive (unannounced) construction inspections being made by the HSE for the year 2014/15 and these figures were then compared to a previous request for the same information in 2012/13.

This revealed that the total number of HSE inspections for 2012/13 was 10,577 compared to 9,656 in 2014/15 a reduction of 8.7%. This decline in inspections came at a time when the construction industry was recovering from recession and activity was increasing.

The biggest reduction was in Scotland which saw a drop of 55.7% in inspections. There was also a decreases: in the North East 28.5%, North West 32.5%, the South East 19.6% and in Wales 3.4%. There were some English regions where the number of inspections increased and the overall reduction for England was 2%.

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.”

Construction is the most dangerous industry in the UK in 2014/15, 35 construction workers suffered fatal injuries.

Mr Rye added: “The HSE needs to explain what is behind the reduction in inspectors is this due to budget cuts or specific policies to reduce inspection activity? Construction workers deserve to be told the truth.”

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Alastair Brown
Alastair Brown

Might the drop in numbers be simply down to the lower number of HSE Construction Inspectors? Many (myself included) have left in recent years, and new recruits are still undergoing training, so this will inevitably have an impact on inspection numbers.

A Brown, Fife.