One in four contractors risks falling foul of HSE

One in four contractors risks falling foul of HSE

ECIC, the specialist insurer for the contracting sector, is urging contractors to scrutinise their health and safety procedures to ensure they have documented evidence of health and safety assessments for every worker employed on site  – whether directly or indirectly via labour only or bona fide subcontractors.

In a survey of over 350 contractors, ECIC found that while the majority (75%) ensure their workers sign site specific health and safety assessments at the start of every job, 13% do not make workers sign the relevant documents and 12% are unsure. The survey also found that nearly a third of contractors think that Brexit will have an impact on health and safety legislation.

The findings have been revealed in support of World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28th April 2017.

In 2014/2015 there were 258 prosecution cases in the construction sector by the Health and Safety Executive, 243 (94%) of which resulted in a guilty verdict for at least one offence. Aside from the serious impact this has on workers suffering work related ill health or injury, changes to the Sentencing Guidelines last year have seen fines for breaches of Health and Safety law rise significantly.

Ian Hollingworth, Head of Claims for ECIC said: “Although we face some uncertainties as a result of Brexit, and skills shortages are creating more demand for sub-contractors, now is not the time to lose focus on Health and Safety. Last year’s changes to the Sentencing Guidelines means firms face much heavier fines for H&S offences.  In some cases the level of fines may represent a massive increase compared to the fines the business being prosecuted may have faced under the old regime. Just to illustrate the point, in the year since the new guidelines were introduced there have been 19 fines of over £1million compared to 3 in 2015 and none in 2014.

“We would urge the minority of contracting firms who are failing to compile and provide to all workers, relevant risk assessments and method statements, to address the issue without delay. The documents demonstrate risk identification and mitigation by the employer and is evidence that the worker has understood and accepted the risk of the tasks they are undertaking and the measures to be used to reduce any risks to the lowest possible level.

These signed documents will support the contractor if an accident occurs resulting in a HSE investigation and help defend a related insurance claim.

“World Day for Safety and Health and Work this week provides a good opportunity to remind firms of their duty of care responsibilities and the evidence they need to prove their Health and Safety compliance.”

The annual World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28th April promotes the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally. It is an awareness-raising campaign intended to focus international attention on the magnitude of the problem and on how promoting and creating a safety and health culture can help reduce the number of work-related deaths and injuries.

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