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HSE's 'encouraging' Teesside blitz sees one quarter given black mark

One quarter of the refurbishment sites blitzed by the Health and Safety Executive in Teesside last week were issued with an enforcement notice, which has been described by the regulator as “encouraging”.

The crackdown is the latest part of a rolling inspection campaign which in many regions has seen between a half and two-thirds of sites reprimanded for poor safety practices.

Of 58 sites blitzed, 15 were served a total of 26 enforcement notices.

HSE principal inspector for the north east construction division Rob Hirst said: “It is encouraging to see that on the majority of sites inspectors did not have to serve enforcement notices. This illustrates that the industry can work safely.

“However, we continue to find a number of sites where dangerous practices are accepted by those in control of the site and inspectors had to take formal enforcement action.”

Fifteen were issued because of insufficient fall protection on the sites, including missing edge protection on scaffolds, poorly erected tower scaffolding and failing to protect against falling into voids.

Mr Hirst said the regulator would continue to look closely at contractors working in the refurbishment sector.

“And [we] will take appropriate enforcement action where necessary,” he said.

Data from 2007/08 showed more than half of construction-related deaths occurred on refurbishment or repair and maintenance projects.

As part of the Teesside crackdown, the HSE served five notices for breaches relating to potential asbestos exposure and one for “poor housekeeping”.

Other problems included inadequate lighting, unsafe access and electrical safety issues.