Unite has discovered that life-saving proactive (unannounced) inspections in the construction industry have fallen to a record low.
Freedom of Information
A freedom of information request made by the union discovered that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) undertook only 7,647 unannounced inspections in 2022/23 a two per cent decline on the previous year when there were 7,793 inspections.
Construction is the most dangerous sector in the UK and the unannounced inspections made by the HSE are critical in ensuring that employers don’t ignore safety laws and consequentially risk the lives of their workers.
Reduction in inspections
However, the number of inspections conducted by the HSE has been constantly falling since 2010 when the Conservative-led government slashed its funding as part of austerity cut backs. In 2013/14, the HSE made 11,303 proactive inspections - they have declined by nearly a third (32 per cent) since that time.
Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “These are highly disturbing figures, levels of construction work aren’t decreasing, so how can construction workers be kept safe when inspections continue to decline?
“Construction remains the UK’s most dangerous industry and it is completely unacceptable for construction safety to be undermined in this manner.”
Unite national officer, Jerry Swain, said: “The truth is that many construction employers are all too prepared to play fast and loose with construction safety and it is only the fear of being caught that keeps them on the straight and narrow. The declining number of inspections will sadly increase the temptation to cut corners on safety.”