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HSE spot inspections are underway – what you need to know

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In September and October HSE Inspectors will carry out unannounced visits to construction sites where refurbishment or repair works are underway

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This is the 9th annual initiative and HSE Inspectors are targeting high-risk activities affecting the health of workers, to ensure these are being properly managed.

Work at height will again come under scrutiny

During the initiative this time last year, over 1,100 construction sites failed safety checks with one of the most common problems being the standards for working at height. Inspectors will be ensuring sites continue to implement the correct procedures where such work is required.

What do you have to do?

You must make sure work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people with the skills, knowledge and experience to do the job. You must use the right type of equipment for working at height.

Take a sensible approach when considering precautions. Low-risk, relatively straightforward tasks will require less effort when it comes to planning and there may be some low-risk situations where common sense tells you no particular precautions are necessary.

Control measures

First assess the risks. Factors to weigh up include the height of the task, the duration and frequency, and the condition of the surface being worked on.
Before working at height work through these simple steps:

  • Avoid work at height where it’s reasonably practicable to do so
  • Where work at height cannot be easily avoided, prevent falls using either an existing place of work that is already safe or the right type of equipment
  • Minimise the distance and consequences of a fall, by using the right type of equipment where the risk cannot be eliminated

The difference between Collective and Personal Protection

For each step, always consider measures that protect everyone at risk (collective protection) before measures that only protect the individual (personal protection).
Collective protection is equipment that does not require the person working at height to act for it to be effective. Examples are permanent or temporary guardrails, scissor lifts and tower scaffolds.
Personal protection is equipment that requires the individual to act for it to be effective. An example is putting on a safety harness correctly and connecting it, with an energy-absorbing lanyard, to a suitable anchor point.

Top Tips

  • Ensure that work is properly planned in advance and adequately supervised
  • Prevent falls using either an existing place of work that is already safe, or the right type of equipment
  • Give collective protection measures (e.g. edge protection, scaffolds) priority over personal protection (e.g. harnesses), taking account of the specific working conditions
  • Implement standards that need to be met for working platforms, guard-rails, toe-boards, nets, airbags, harnesses etc
  • Ensure workers can get safely to and from where they are required to work
  • Ensure equipment is suitable, stable and strong enough for the job, maintained and checked regularly
  • Take precautions when working on or near fragile surfaces
  • Provide protection from falling objects
  • Consider emergency evacuation and rescue procedures
  • Restrict unauthorised access where this is necessary
  • Ensure the safe use of any lifting equipment
  • Provide adequate lighting
  • Ensure adequate precautions where work is required around overhead services
  • Ensure that no work at height is carried out when there are adverse weather conditions
  • Provide adequate training, information, instruction and supervision for those involved

Want to know more?

Please call Square Mile Broking on 0844 561 6075 or read our FFI factsheet – The top 10 FFI breaches and how to avoid being fined.