We previously advised our members, in our April 2022 newsletter, of the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) plans to target woodworking businesses, as part of a crackdown on the factors leading to occupational lung diseases.
The news followed the NAS’ attendance at the Wood Safety Group a month earlier, where the HSE confirmed that it had visited over 200 wood working businesses in the past six months, issuing 118 notices at approximately half of the businesses.
The HSE is concerned that there has been a lack of industry engagement with the issues they are trying to address, so they advised that a further 700 visits are planned for the next 12 months, with a specific focus on dust, noise and machinery guarding. The HSE confirmed that it would publish guidance on its website to cover these issues.
The impact of the HSE’s increase in inspections is now being felt, with one anonymous NAS member advising that they have been inspected on three separate occasions in the past month. Two of these were on site, where the member was acting as a subcontractor in one case, and as the main contractor in the other. The last inspection was at their workshop.
Despite being well regarded in the sector for their approach to Health and Safety, as well as holding multiple accreditations, the HSE reported breaches against the NAS member, including:
- On the first full day on site the hot water had still to be connected, resulting in a welfare issue for those on site;
- Issues with the face fit equipment of a subcontractor;
- Despite a fire plan being readily available, the fire risk assessment was not on site; and
- Issues with signage on racking used for storing sheet materials.
We therefore encourage all NAS members to review their site procedures, noting the HSE’s advice on what they are looking for, to ensure that they are not only safeguarding their workforce, but also prepared for a future HSE inspections.