What are Health & Safety Inspectors looking for at your site?
By their very nature, construction sites carry significant risks to people working on them. Whatever your role is on a site, whether you’re a project manager, bricklayer, crane operator or even a Clerk of Works in London, everyone has a duty to help minimise risks and keep their site a safe as possible.
The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Construction Division inspectors are the last line of defence. There are around 100 Inspectors travelling the country, making sure everyone in construction is complying with Health and Safety law set out by the Government. When you’re running a site, you have to be prepared for an HSE inspection at some point, but when will they come, and what are they looking for? Let’s investigate.
When will HSE inspectors call?
That’s an impossible question to answer, because HSE Inspectors can visit your site at any time, without notice. However, they’re most likely to come as a result of a complaint, or if they’re following up on a previous visit.
When they’re at your site, they have the power to enter your site unhindered. Inspectors can talk to any member of staff, who are obliged to co-operate and answer any questions they have to the best of their knowledge. Inspectors can take written statements from staff members.
If an Inspector finds something which doesn’t comply, they can issue notices requiring you to make improvements. If it’s something especially serious, with an immediate risk of serious injury, they can stop building processes. They can also prosecute businesses or people for breaking Health and Safety laws.
What do HSE inspectors want to see?
When an HSE inspector visits your site, here are 5 ways to make a good impression:
- Preparation – While statistically, an HSE visit to your site is unlikely, especially if there have been no accidents in the past, your Inspectors will be impressed if they can see you have planned for a visit anyway. Formulate some guidelines regarding what to do in the event of a visit, such as who to call, where the important documents are etc.
- Someone always being in control – You’re in charge of your site, but what if you’re on holiday or off sick? Make sure there are plans in place to make sure someone is responsible for Health and Safety on the site when you aren’t around. If the Inspector does call, you can involve them in the inspection process.
- Transparency – Honesty is the best policy when an Inspector calls. They will not appreciate any attempt to bluff or obstruct them. Make sure you ask questions about what the Inspector is doing. It signifies that you’re interested in helping them, and you may receive valuable advise if there is anything that needs improving.
- Tidiness – One of the first things an Inspector will notice is the outward appearance of your site. If it’s untidy, they may well think there are other issues lurking under the surface. So, keep your site tidy at all times. The same goes for the essential Health & Safety paperwork which will be on your site. Make sure it’s easy to find, but also regularly consulted. If an Inspector receives a dusty old file which has clearly not been looked at in months, they might think something is up!
- Positivity – An Inspector’s visit doesn’t have to be something to dread. If you receive a visit, be positive, look it as a way to improve your practices. Use it as an opportunity to highlight the good work you are already doing on Health and Safety.
The role of the Clerk of Works
As Clerks of Works, we carry out many different inspections on a construction site. We inspect building materials. We inspect the construction process as it happens. We also monitor risks to Health and Safety.
Of course, we’re not Health and Safety Inspectors. We’re not backed by the full force of the law. We report to our clients, you, the project manager. We don’t report to the Government.
If a Clerk of Works sees something that they think would mark you down on a Health and Safety inspection, they will report it to you immediately. That puts the ball in your court regarding how to deal with it.
If that’s not a good reason to hire a Clerk of Work for your London site, I don’t know what is!
To conclude, no one wants to see accidents on a construction site. When it comes to Health and Safety, we’re all on the same side. If you receive a visit from an HSE inspector, with a bit of preparation, and some help from your Clerk of Works, you can pass with flying colours.
If you’re looking for Clerk of Works services in London, from professionals who always have your interests at heart, look no further than Fox Curtis Murray. We’ve been your eyes and ears on site for more than 30 years. Call 0207 323 5758 or visit www.fcmltd.co.uk today.