A mixed positive and negative sign in the industry; the number of visits which the HSE has had to inspect over the past year has markedly dropped. Whilst, on the one hand these figures do suggest recognition that construction activities are more regularly incorporating effective health and safety measures (thus not needing as regular monitoring), concerns have also been raised as to the reduced “fear factor” that employers will experience – effectively, pushing them to ensure complete site safety in case of a random, spot inspection.
In total, it was reported that the total inspections taken out over the course of 2014/2015 was 9,656, an 8.7% drop from the visits undertaken across 2012/2013. Though this figure might not seem like a drastic drop at first glance, it is also key to factor in the present, and former economic state in which construction companies have been operating. With companies increasingly benefiting from the recently improved economic climate, there has been a markedly improved rate of enquiries and associated projects which should, in theory have suggested an increase in the number of visits undertaken – as opposed to the drop which has been reported.
The most significant drop in site visits has been perceived in Scotland, with a 55.7% drop in the number of inspections. This, most aptly can be attributed to the reduced incident rate for non-fatal injuries in Scotland, therefore requiring less site visits to double check on those already performing well. However, the HSE has yet highlighted the fact that, with risks remaining the same across Scotland and England, the same levels of support is available to Scottish construction companies, with the same level of commitment provided across the board.
Yet, the big question is how construction companies will take this news and how it will change the safety landscape. On the one hand, should construction companies take the reduced visits as a pat on the back, it is possible that the recognition could drive a continued focus on safety as a key area of best practice, yet, at the same time the scales could fall on the other side, with slackness and an uneasy lack of importance placed upon safety as a result of the reduced visits – only time will tell, of course, but we surely hope for the former.