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What You Need to Escape the Hefty Fines of the HSE

Updated on March 18, 2014

Health and Safety at Work is Now More Important than Ever

Poor health and safety in the workplace can result in huge fines
Poor health and safety in the workplace can result in huge fines | Source

After one whole year of issuing fines to those that didn’t seem to meet the standards, the HSE revealed they’d received millions of pounds in payments from those who needed intervention and expected these payments to rise again in 2014.

The FFI scheme began when the government cut funding, leaving eighty million pounds to find. It seems this is a debt on its way to being satisfied as one in five companies have now received fines.

The Cost of Professionals

If an inspector finds your company guilty of not following legislation they will intervene. They will issues orders that you must comply with and will charge you £124 per hour for their time until their requests are satisfied.

Many have turned to qualified health and safety inspectors to do an audit of their site, to identify any problem areas so the company is fully protected should a surprise visit occur.

Do It Yourself

Another option for managers or a designated staff member is to train yourself. This costs a fraction of an audit and can keep you in the loop at all times. It puts you back in control and offers the greatest chance of success as you can monitor health and safety every day as standard.

In order to meet the inspector’s criteria as a qualified appointed health and safety person you need certification along with training in certain areas.

A five day course such as the smsts courses can train a manager to understand the legal obligations, along with how to report, the importance of risk assessments, the latest regulations and how to communicate with staff.

As a leader it is important that employees are also passionate about health and safety as the company will be held responsible for incompetence or negligence on their part.

The Different Aspects of Construction Safety

Health and safety in the construction industry isn’t as plain sailing as many think. There are many layers that have to be recognised in order to escape the fines.

Just some of these include:

  • Demolition: The health and safety issues surrounding demolition are abundant. Site managers must ensure that all workers are safe along with anyone passing by. There are also strict rules to follow before the demolition of any building such as examining materials for traces of asbestos. Over the last year a few companies have been condemned as they demolished a building without testing for this fibre.
  • Disposal: The disposal of materials is a hot topic right now with one company being fined hundreds of thousands of pounds because they didn’t follow the correct procedure.
  • Adequate Workspaces: One company faced fines as they didn’t provide soap in the bathrooms for the staff.
  • Offices: When we consider health and safety in construction immediately the power tools, buildings and dangers of working with hazardous materials spring to mind. The site office is often overlooked. Health and safety inspectors will not ignore the office and will dole out fines if floors are slippy or electrics aren’t up to scratch.

This is just a small proportion of what health and safety in the construction industry encompasses. With regulations changing rapidly, it makes sense to keep up to date and to learn about the changes rather than rely on another inspector or assessor to let you know.

You can teach yourself with SMSTs courses that show you the basics of health and safety in a day. It's up to you to decide if this would be a better investment than employing a designated safety inspector.


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