A national interiors fit-out company, who's client's include high end retail brands, is backing the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) annual construction refurbishment initiative and asking construction colleagues to act now in the improvement of standards in order to reduce the number of death, injuries, and ill-health in their industry.

Newman Scott was visited by the HSE in 2013 during their inspection initiative which resulted in the company, and one of their directors, being prosecuted due to the poor standards found as a sub-contractor for the company was using a poorly erected mobile scaffold, on an escalator between the ground and first floor.

John Graham, Newman Scott's new Joint Managing Director, said:

“We were mortified at the thought of being prosecuted because we had a good safety record and thought we were pretty good at health and safety…although no-one was hurt there was a very real and high risk of injury, or worse, to the operatives. We had a choice, we could consider ourselves lucky there were no injuries or we could hold a full and frank internal investigation, understand what had gone wrong and make sure our sites were safe for our workers.”

Graham continued by saying that they “focused on improving the already positive safety culture in the company through better communication, more training, more competency checking and giving more ownership of health and safety” to their employees.

It is believed that although changes would have eventually been made, the HSE's enforcement action acted as a catalyst for Newman Scott to make effective changes.

In response, Jo Anderson, HSE's lead for the construction initiative, said:

“We are grateful to Newman Scott for sharing their experience and for how they have responded to the prosecution. We hope everyone can learn from their lessons and realise it is vital when carrying out construction work that the right management systems are in place so risks to workers’ health are controlled just as effectively as safety. Workers within construction are paying too high a toll on their health and safety when it is completely avoidable by planning the work, providing the right kit and making sure it is used properly.”

John Graham also said:

“I would urge everyone in the construction industry to take action now in protecting the health and safety of your workers. Don’t let a prosecution or worse the death or injury of a colleague be the catalyst for change.”