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Risk news

Why welfare facilities are so important to builders

Building sites are notoriously hazardous places in which to work and one would think that major contractors have more pressing priorities than providing welfare facilities.

While firms must ensure that everyone on site is working in a safe manner first and foremost, they should not underestimate the importance of giving construction workers a place to wash their hands and face, dry their clothes and eat their meals.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) makes no apologies for dealing in a severe manner with any company that fails to provide such facilities.

While it may not seem overly important to some, the regulator insists that builders can develop skin complaints if they do not have an adequate wash area - especially if they have been using concrete.

The organisation has fined a builder in West Cornwall this week (April 17th) after he was found to have neglected the welfare of employees on his site.

Although there were eight workmen on site, the HSE discovered that there was no hot or cold running water or a basin to wash in. In addition to this, inspectors found that drinking water was unavailable and that an area for resting, drying clothes and eating was inadequate.

Despite being issued with an Improvement Notice, the builder had not changed anything by the time the HSE visited the site for a second time.

The man pleaded guilty to a single breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and was given a two-year conditional discharge, as well as a £2,141 fine.

HSE inspector Barry Trudgian said that contractors have an obligation to provide welfare for a workforce for the entire duration of the project.

"The need to provide running water to wash hands and arms is not a trivial matter on a building site," he remarked.

"The workmen were pouring concrete and when splashed on the skin this can lead to dermatitis if it is not washed off. Apart from being an unpleasant condition, in some cases it can lead to the loss of use of fingers and hands."ADNFCR-2134-ID-801574279-ADNFCR

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