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HSE Inspections Decline Puts Focus On Safety In The Construction Industry

In 2015/16 there were 9,219 construction site inspections. In 2016/17, this reduced to 7,912, following the trend of the previous 12 months’ 4% decrease.

The numbers were obtained by Unite, the UK’s principal construction union, through a freedom of information (FOI) request. The union has now written to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and David Gauke, the new work and pensions secretary with responsibility for the HSE, seeking meetings.

The HSE’s funding is set to be cut further, with its budget in 2020 set to be nearly half what it was in 2010. The union is also concerned that some safety legislation could be scrapped as part of future post-Brexit deregulation.

A regional breakdown also revealed marked differences in inspection activity with just one region, Scotland, recording an increase in the past 12 months.

Region Differences

Eastern -22%
East Midlands  -26%
London  -14%
Northeast  -39%
Northwest  -5%
Scotland  +9%
Southeast  -8%
Southwest  -32%
Wales  -15%
West Midlands  -13%
Yorkshire  -4

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “These figures are alarming as they demonstrate a huge decrease in vital lifesaving inspections. Sadly there remain far too many employers who are all too willing to cut safety regulations and it is only the genuine prospect of an unannounced inspection which keeps them in check.

“We also need answers from the HSE about whether they are taking steps to redress this fall in inspections and whether there are specific reasons for these reductions.”

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