Once the building industry gets back up and running properly following COVID, the HSE have started working on the HSE business plan which likely includes more focus on Principle Designers on building projects that come under its investigation.
This was a move that was announced late 2019, but the lack of serious construction work since then has meant that there have been no real projects that have required intervention by the safety executive, but this is likely to change once building work recommences.
The HSE developed a business plan back in summer 2019, with the intention of rolling it out and reinforcing it as an ongoing concern. The HSE believe that there is still an unacceptable level of work-related injuries and illness that stem from building sites and this has been seen as an issue for Principle Contractors, but the HSE wants to make the Principle Designer the owner for these kinds of issues.
The HSE have highlighted a number of ongoing issues in the construction industry that continue to affect the workplace. The HSE point to recent yearly statistics such as;
- 12,000 deaths per year from occupational lung disease or cancer.
- 144 people killed at work.
- 71,000 work-related injuries
- 3.7 million working days lost at a cost to the UK economy of approximately £15 billion.
Put in those terms, the need to immediately reduce them, and work towards complete removal of these as issues is obvious. The project plan put forward by the HSE is designed with that in mind.
HSE Business Plan for Prosperity
The plan considers a number of areas of in which it will champion in an ongoing basis. These are to lead and engage others to improve workplace health and safety while providing an effective blanket regulatory framework that all parties in the construction business can follow. The HSE will also ensure the effective management of tasks and through that reduce the likelihood of low-frequency, high-impact catastrophic incidents, as well as curtailing more minor issues too.
The HSE has struggled with the most effective way of ensuring employee safety while not becoming a burden on the stakeholders, nor affecting profitability of the companies concerned. This is not seen as a new way of working but rather a partnership that benefits everyone involved.
Healing the Construction Industry
The HSE believes that, for the greater part, many illnesses and accident inflicted upon site workers can be negated by planning and the correct use of PPE, and this education of workers and management alike is a key aspect of the project. This will be carried out by a concerted programme of education to inform people of the risks involved in the industry and how they can be averted either through training or protective equipment.
The construction industry is a major contributor to work-place deaths and injuries and the HSE is determined that the continual tide of illness and injury can and will be stemmed. No one should go to work and face the prospect of being injured or contracting an illness, and this plan is the first step in making such issues a thing of the past.
By focusing on Principle Designers rather the contractor side at present and making them the prime responsibility for site safety, the HSE hopes to instil a notion that health and safety is paramount, and it is everyone’s responsibility rather than just the people organising the contractors. The idea is that contracts could not be awarded to any company that has a dubious record when it comes to safety, since the buck stops finally with the Principle Designer or team, so they couldn’t afford to allow that to happen.