From 1 October UK construction companies could be charged for being issued a notice of prohibition and improvement warns Michael Slade, managing director of health and safety specialist Bibby Consulting & Support.
"Making workplaces safe, even in the construction industry, is not rocket science," he said.
Mr Slade was responding to news that, when inspecting 22 London construction sites recently, the UK's Health & Safety Executive (HSE) took formal enforcement action against almost half of the firms. In most cases, the problem was simply that basic precautions had not been taken, but one site was actually shut down because the working environment was simply too hazardous.
Calling these figures "nothing short of staggering," Mr Slade said, "In simple terms all you have to do is follow the guidance available and plan things properly; so it's extremely disappointing to see that the number of fatalities in this sector has remained static at around 50 for the second year running. So many of these deaths are wholly avoidable.
"Regulations relating to this kind of work are prescriptive, which means they tell you what you've got to do. That's why it's so unacceptable that a simple lack of planning can put people's lives at risk as well as the future of many businesses."
Mr Slade points out that UK construction companies are in for an even bigger shock from 1 October this year when they are likely to be charged by the HSE for being sent a notice of prohibition or improvement. The 'Fee for Intervention' cost recovery scheme will see companies paying for the expense of the HSE investigating them and taking enforcement action.
"With the construction industry shrinking, companies can ill afford to be paying out avoidable fees," he said. "The simple answer is to put the effort in at the front end to plan and make workplaces safer. It really isn't rocket science."