Construction inspections see a sharp drop in a year, union warns


The number of construction inspections carried out by health and safety inspectors has fallen 14 per cent in a year

Union Unite has warned government ministers and the Health and Safety Executive to act urgently after discovering a rapid drop in the number of construction inspections. The news follows an earlier warning from Unite that the number of inspectors had also seen a significant decline over the past decade.

Data collected during a freedom of information (FOI) request found the number of unannounced inspections that occurred in the construction industry fell by 14 per cent in a single year.

Unite said figures dropped in 2016/17 to 7,912 from 9,219 seen in 2015/16. Furthermore, this reduction in the number of inspections was following a trend. In the previous 12 months there had been a 4 per cent decrease seen.

Concerning lack of inspections

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said it was concerning inspections were not taking place.

“These figures are alarming as they demonstrate a huge decrease in vital lifesaving inspections,” he said.

“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.”

Unite wrote to the HSE and new work and pensions secretary David Gauke, calling for a meeting to discuss the issue. The union warned the situation was hazardous as academic studies revealed there is a “clear correlation” between the frequency of inspections and compliance with safety laws. Furthermore, the union said the construction industry was the “most dangerous industry”.

“The government has slashed funding for the HSE and it is clear that it is increasingly struggling to make ends meet,” Cartmail added.

“With a new secretary of state in place Unite and our members need to know what plans he has for the HSE and safety laws.

“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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