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HSE safety drive targets schools and universities

The Health and Safety Executive has launched a safety drive targeting construction sites at schools and universities.

Inspectors will visit sites in the North West over the next two weeks in response to the increase in construction work taking place at schools, universities and student accommodation during the summer holidays.

They will give particular attention to work taking place at height, asbestos issues, the general state of sites and the welfare facilities for workers.

HSE principal inspector for construction Neil Jamieson said there are concerns that “lives could be put at risk if firms are rushing to complete work in time for the start of the autumn term”.

“Safety has to be the top priority on any construction site and it’s simply not worth taking risks to try and finish jobs early.

“The death rate for construction workers is four times the national average, and employers should be doing all they can to tackle this issue.

“Hopefully the majority of the sites we visit will have high safety standards but we won’t hesitate to take action if we find workers are being put in danger,” he added.

Nearly a fifth of all construction sites failed health and safety checks during the HSE’s month-long inspection drive earlier this year.

Inspectors have the power to issue enforcement notices, either stopping work activities immediately or requiring improvements to be made, in cases where sites fall below the minimum legal standards for health and safety.

A total of 39 people lost their lives while working in the industry in 2012/13 despite the sector only employing around 5 per cent of British workers.

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