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Small building firms ‘cannot ignore health and safety responsibilities’

It is not just the large, multinational construction companies that have to take their health and safety responsibilities seriously.  Although they may have significantly fewer resources, small builders must also do everything within their power to protect their staff.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has pledged to punish any organisation that fails to appoint competent health and safety specialists to oversee work.
One recent case in South Wales saw the owner of a small building firm admit to breaching Regulation 13 (2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.The man in question received a £2,500 fine after it emerged he was not trained in the management of health and safety on construction sites.An investigation was launched when a worker fell from an unsecured ladder while completing a house refurbishment for the company.Although the incident did not influence the sentencing, it did prompt a HSE inspection, during which the various safety flaws were discovered.

The regulator also found that adequate risk assessments had not been carried out and workers were allowed to use unsafe scaffolding.

HSE inspector Phil Nicolle said: “This case highlights the duty that all construction contractors have to plan, manage and monitor their work activities appropriately.

Small construction companies cannot ignore their responsibility to effectively manage health and safety. Reliance on experience is not enough. Managers and supervisors must be suitably trained to enable them to fulfill their duties and ensure the safety of their workers.”

According to British safety legislation, small builders have an obligation to manage hazards and risk, inform and train their workforce and co-operate with their clients.

In addition to this, companies must also make welfare facilities available in case somebody suffers a minor injury.

Another important consideration is site access. A number of incidents occur each year when unauthorised people somehow manage to force their way into a building site.

This problem is particularly bad during school holidays when bored children think it is a good idea to play in dangerous construction areas.


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