Trade union Unite has raised concerns that construction safety is being "undermined" by a declining number of inspections
The number of unannounced inspections by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the construction industry has fallen to a record low, according to new findings.
A freedom of information request made by Unite, which represents over 1.2 million members in construction, found that HSE carried out 7,647 unannounced inspections in 2022/23 – a 2% decline on the previous year when there were 7,793 inspections.
The number of inspections conducted by HSE has fallen by nearly a third (32%) over the last decade. In 2013/14, the safety watchdog made 11,303 proactive (unannounced) inspections.
Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “These are highly disturbing figures, levels of construction work aren’t decreasing, so how can construction workers be kept safe when inspections continue to decline?
“Construction remains the UK’s most dangerous industry and it is completely unacceptable for construction safety to be undermined in this manner.”
An HSE spokesperson said: “Britain continues to be one of the safest places to work in the world. Counting the number of inspections we carry out is not the only way that we measure impact. Over the past ten years we have focused on the areas of greatest risk and targeted our inspection activity using insight and intelligence.
“Our inspections are only one part of what we do to keep people safe. We use a range of regulatory tools to improve health and safety, such as working to influence industries and providing free, clear, and accessible guidance.”