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One in four sites found to be unsafe.

Byline: JEZ DAVISON

ONE in four Teesside construction sites have been branded dangerous by safety officials.

In a fresh crackdown on local firms, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that seven out of 30 Teesside sites were unsafe.

Inspectors slapped firms with two prohibition notices and seven improvement notices relating to safe working at height, welfare facilities for workers and asbestos awareness training.

The HSE would not name the guilty parties, which will be given time to get their house in order before being re-assessed.

The findings are part of a wider drive by the organisation to reduce workplace accidents, injuries and deaths.

Rob Hirst, HSE's North-east based principal inspector for construction, said: "This was the fifth year of the inspection initiative and it is disappointing to find construction sites taking the same unnecessary risks with their workers' lives.

"Although there were examples of good practice, which the industry can learn from, the fact that we found unsafe conditions on seven in 30 sites is unacceptable.

"Companies have a responsibility to protect their workers, to help rid construction of its reputation as being one of Britain's most dangerous industries."

In the year to last March there were 78 injuries from construction-related activities on Teesside - a 26.4% fall on the previous year and less than a fifth of the 440 recorded across the North-east.

However the HSE, which produced the data, attributed the decline to a recession-induced fall in construction activity.

Companies found to have breached the law are often given time to improve their safety procedures before being re-assessed, but in serious cases they could face hefty fines or prosecution.

During a similar initiative last year, HSE inspectors visited 39 sites in the North-east and issued 17 enforcement notices to stop dangerous work - much of it relating to working at height.

Random inspections could be reduced by a third, however, under a radical shake up of health and safety laws.

The Government has pledged to simplify legislation following complaints that it is strangling business in red tape.

Under the proposals, responsible employers would no longer face automatic health and safety inspections.

Instead the laws would target rogue employers and high-risk operations such as major energy sites.

The CBI claim this would "inject some common sense" into safety regulation, but the TUC warned the proposals were bad for workers' health and safety as well as the economy.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Mar 22, 2011
Words:398
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