Health and safety spot checks in construction hit record low

Rear view of male builder construction worker, surveyor, engineer or architect on building site wearing hard hat and hi-vis vest
The number of HSE inspections have fallen by 32% over the last decade (Image Darren Baker via

The number of unannounced inspections by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the construction industry has fallen to a record low, the second-largest trade union in the UK has found.

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.”

A 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.”

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