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Setting a safety example

COMMENT

MAJOR contractors have a vital role to play in setting safety standards across the industry. And a swoop by HSE inspectors on the Drakes Circus shopping centre in Plymouth last week provided encouraging evidence of how important that function is proving.

Investigators visited the job, where an army of small subcontractors was working on fitting out stores ready for an October opening.

All the usual ingredients where there for an inspector's worst nightmare - a large number of subbies struggling to meet a tight deadline. But the HSE only had to issue two enforcement notices for breaches of legislation.

The reason behind the relatively high standards is that main contractor Bovis Lend Lease made safety its main priority from day one on the job.

The structure had been handed over to the fit-out crews but the safety culture continued into the finishing stages.

Improving safety standards among trade contractors is the biggest challenge facing the HSE and the Plymouth example shows that the best example comes from the top.