23/01/2002

HSENI focus on construction safety measures

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) has embarked on a week-long province-wide inspection initiative to determine the extent of safety measures used on industrial roofing projects.

The inspections focused on the use of close hung safety nets, following the HSENI’s identification of a number of sites on which steel framed building were being erected. It was anticipated that the use of close hung safety nets would be appropriate on the majority of these sites – but when the sites were visited during construction, only 46 per cent of them were using, or planned to use, such safety measures.

The move also came as a number of local companies have been prosecuted for not paying due regard to their employees’ health and safety. Gilbert-Ash NI Ltd was recently fined £250 following an investigation into a serious incident which occurred during the construction of the Adelaide Plaza Complex in Adelaide Street, Belfast. The accident happened when a worker fell eight metres through an asbestos cement roof, landing on a parked car.

J Kennedy & Company (Constructors) Ltd, Foylespan Floors Ltd and Patrick Murphy have also been successfully prosecuted following a serious accident at the new Bus and Rail Station in Coleraine, where two workers fell 4.4 metres during the placing of concrete slabs. The fines associated with this particular accident totalled £6,500.

Ken Logan, Head of HSENI’s Construction Group, commented: “Falls from heights are the principle cause of fatal and major injury accidents within the construction sector. Consequently it is essential that everyone involved plays an active part in raising safety standards.

“Safety nets, properly rigged, provide an excellent means of protection for everyone working above the netted areas. We now view safety nets as the preferred protection method for all roof cladding activities, regardless of whether the roofing materials is fragile or not. HSENI is therefore actively seeking to ensure that the use of close hung safety nets becomes standard practice on sites where appropriate.” (CL)

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