The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released the results of its annual refurbishment initiative which reveal that poor standards or dangerous practices were found on 46% of construction sites visited.

The initiative, which ran for four weeks earlier this year, saw HSE inspectors target nearly 2,000 sites across the UK where refurbishment work was taking place. They served 692 enforcement notices, 983 notifications of contravention and 260 improvement notices. Inspectors had to deal with immediate risks, such as work at height, and deal with sites where workers were being exposed to silica dust and asbestos, which cause long term health problems.

HSE chief inspector of Construction Peter Baker said: “It is disappointing that some small refurbishment sites are still cutting corners and not properly protecting their workers. Falls from height are the most common killer in the industry but we still found workers put at risk to save minutes on the job – believing it wouldn’t happen to them.

“The misconception that health issues cannot be controlled is simply not true and ruining people’s lives. Harmful dust, whether silica or wood, is a serious issue and can be managed effectively with the right design, equipment and training.”

In light of the results, HSE is urging the construction industry to ensure basic health and safety measures are in place on all sites. It has also issued new specialist guidance – Occupational Health Risk Management in Construction – in a bid to improve management of occupational health risks in the industry.