Nearly one in five construction sites visited across Britain have been subject to enforcement action after failing safety checks

In a month long initiative, inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited a total of 2,363 sites where refurbishment or repair work was taking place and saw 2,976 contractors.

631 enforcement notices were served across 433 sites for poor practices that could put workers at risk, with 451 notices ordering that work stop immediately until the situation was put right.

Philip White, HSE’s Chief Inspector of Construction, said: “This initiative has once again shown us that the majority of construction employers do take their responsibilities to their workers seriously.

“However, our inspectors also encountered numerous examples of poor practice, from lack of edge protection on stairwells and scaffolding to unsafe storage of flammable materials and inadequate personal protective equipment. None of these are acceptable on a modern construction site.

“HSE will not hesitate to use its enforcement powers against reckless employers. It is they who continue to make construction one of the most dangerous industries in which to work.”

Between 18 February and 15 March inspectors made unannounced visits to construction sites to ensure they were managing high-risk activity, such as working at height.

Checks were also carried out in on whether there was general good order on site, whether PPE was being used effectively and if welfare facilities were adequate.

During 2011/12 49 workers were killed while working in construction and 2,884 major injuries were reported.