New figures from the HSE show how construction sites without the right safety ladders, roof rails and other safeguards against falls from height are at risk of having their work halted completely.
Following a month-long crackdown on construction sites, the HSE found 40% of nearly 1,750 sites it visited did not have adequate safety measures in place.
At a fifth of the visited locations, failings so bad were witnessed that the HSE had to take formal enforcement action.
By far the most frequent infringement was a lack of preparedness to prevent falls from height, accounting for 42% of all identified issues.
The other issues to come closest to this trailed by a long way – a lack of dust control and insufficient worker welfare in 12% of cases each, and asbestos concerns in 10% of cases.
HSE chief of construction Philip White said: “The inability to properly plan working at height continues to be a major issue, despite well-known safety measures being straightforward to implement.
“It is just not acceptable that inspectors had to order work to stop immediately on over 200 occasions because of dangerous practices.”
Safety ladders can provide safe access to elevated positions, while roof rails can help to reduce the risk of a fall – both relatively straightforward measures that can satisfy HSE inspectors and prevent you from having to shut your site down.