Safety Behaviour in the Construction Industry

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Health and Safety Authority

Summary Statement

A multifaceted study of occupational safety culture and habits in the Irish construction industry.

The Republic of Ireland

During Construction Safety Week in Ireland from the 25 th to the 29 th of September 2000, the HSA carried out 464 site inspections. 80% of sites visited received written advice, 37 prohibition notices and 8 received improvement notices (HSA 2000).

In excess of 5000 inspections were carried out by the HSA in the year 2000. In that year 202 improvement notices, 577 prohibition notices and 11 improvement directions were served. A further 36 sites voluntarily closed as a result of HSA high court action (under section 39 of the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989, HSA 2000).

Between 1995 and 1999 The Health and Safety Authority carried out 17,852 visits to construction sites and building sites regarding the possession of safety statements, safety representatives and safety consultation. 50% had safety statements, 41.9% were involved in safety consultation and only 4.7% had a safety representative.

Recommended action
Found inadequate
Improvement Notice
Management* 4769
219 17 61
Scaffolding 7665
289 26 1202
Edges/openings/Fencing 2657
100 5 335
* Management topics include appointment of a project supervisor for design and construction stages, safety & health plan, particular risks to safety &health plan, and issues regarding the client
Table 5: Recommendations by the HSA following 11,143 inspections carried out during 1995-1999

In terms of regulatory activities between 1995 and 1999, the Health and Safety Authority carried out a total of 11,143 inspections. Among notices and directions given (see table 5), it worth highlighting here that 1202 prohibition notices were recommended to be issued regarding scaffold safety, and 335 were recommended regarding fences and openings left in an unsafe manner. In general figures show that situations and activities related with falls from heights are the ones that also receive more recommendations for improvement or prohibition notices.

Planned Regulatory Activity in 2001

The HSA has published a work program for 2001 planning its regulatory activity for the construction sector. (HSA, 2001a). Specific objectives include:
  • Codes of Practice on Roof Work and Cranes for publication in 2002.
  • 7,000 inspections to enforce compliance in relation to safe working at heights and site traffic management.
  • 100 inspections of Architectural and Engineering practices relating to issues arising from site inspections.
Regulatory Activity in Northern Ireland

For the year ending the 31 st of March 2001 the HSE-NI carried out 1070 inspections and 250 investigations. (HSE-NI 2001).


Scaffolding safety and unguarded openings are major factors leading to prohibition and improvement notices. Inspections have shown that fifty percent or more sites have no safety statement or do not engage in safety consultation. The proportion of sites with safety representatives is less than five percent.

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