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Safety fears halt work at Newcastle sites

Work was halted at more than 16 per cent of refurbishment sites in Newcastle visited by Health and Safety Executive inspectors.

Inspectors visited 24 contractors engaged on refurbishment sites in the city and served four prohibition notices, effectively stopping work due to concerns about working at height and electrical issues.

Two improvement notices were also issued to contractors due to a lack of adequate welfare facilities and the use of stepladders without carrying out a risk assessment.

Jonathan Wills, one of the HSE inspection team,  said: 'Site safety should be paramount and the simple answer is that too many sites allow bad practices to continue.

'Working at height remains the biggest concern and is the single greatest cause of workplace fatalities, while slips and trips are the most common cause of serious injury.

'The construction industry is a challenging environment with a mobile workforce moving from site to site, many with a poor understanding of the problems. But it is up to us all to ensure that they have a safe working environment and receive the proper training so that their lives are not put at risk.'

The HSE is targeting the refurbishment sector with random checks as this sector  saw fatalities rise by 61 per cent last year.

During the safety crackdown, HSE inspectors looked at whether:
Jobs that involve working at height had been identified and properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions were in place 
Equipment was correctly installed / assembled, inspected and maintained and used properly
Sites were well organised, to avoid trips and falls
Walkways and stairs were free from obstructions
Work areas were clear of unnecessary materials and waste
The workforce was made aware of risk control measures