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Health and Safety Authority to Begin Intensive Construction Safety Campaign

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Monday (September 8th) marks the beginning of a two week national construction safety inspection campaign to be carried out by the Health and Safety Authority.

The number of serious and fatal accidents occurring in construction has risen over the last 3 years. Now with increasing levels of activity in the sector, the HSA will be seeking to ensure that standards are maintained and areas where the risks are high, such as working at height, are controlled.

The inspections will also target sites where small contractors are carrying out work. Again there is concern at the high number of accidents occurring that involve either the self-employed or people working for contractors with less than 3 employees.

Brian Higgisson, Assistant Chief Executive with the Health and Safety Authority spoke about reasons for focussing on these two areas. ”When we look at the main causes of the eleven fatal accidents that occurred during 2013, we can see that six of them were caused by a fall from height. Clearly this is an area that we need to focus on and ensure that this kind of work is being done safely. Then we looked at the kinds of enterprises that were involved in the fatalities and again the majority involved either the self-employed or someone working for a company with 3 or less employees.”

Speaking about the approach that will be taken by Inspectors from the Authority Brian Higgisson said: “We provide advice to employers and employees in most cases, however where that advice is not acted on or where there are serious breaches of legislation they will use enforcement action where necessary.”

Working at height, key points;

  • Carry out risk assessments for work at height activities and make sure that all work is planned, organised and carried out by a competent person
  • Follow the general principles of prevention for managing risks from work at height - take steps to avoid, prevent or reduce risks
  • Chose the right work equipment and select collective measures to prevent falls (such as guard rails and working platforms) before other measures which may only reduce the distance and consequences of a fall (such as nets or airbags) or may only provide fall-arrest through personal protection equipment