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Is the current UK health and safety legislation fit for purpose?

Posted on 22/03/2023 at 2:09 PM by in Blog Helpful Information News

The UK has undergone some major health and safety legislation changes in the last few decades to protect workers in the construction sector. The Construction Design and Management Regulations in 2015 and The Control of Asbestos Regulations in 2012 are just two of these.

While these new regulations aim to protect construction workers, they also make it increasingly difficult for complex projects to meet every single legislation.

Test your knowledge of the current health and safety regulations now with our short quiz! It’s harder than it looks…

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the reasons why construction companies are struggling to adhere to legislation – and whether there are problems with the legislation itself.

NCRs and fines

In the UK, construction companies may receive either an NCR (Non-Conformity Report) or a fine when they are found to be in breach of regulations.

An NCR is essentially a written record from the relevant authority outlining any non-compliances that have been identified and stating what steps need to be taken in order for them to be rectified.

NCRs aren’t just for construction companies – they can be issues in any sector where quality management exists.

If the company fails to take corrective action in a timely manner, it may receive a fine instead.

Fines are more severe than NCRs and can potentially result in significant financial penalties, depending on the severity of the breach.

Why are construction companies struggling to meet legislation requirements?

Construction companies face the daunting task of staying on top of the ever-evolving laws and regulations surrounding their work. This is because construction companies must comply with multiple legal requirements, including health and safety regulations, environmental standards, and financial obligations.

Unfortunately, many construction businesses struggle to meet these requirements due to an overwhelming amount of paperwork, inadequate staffing, and inefficient processes.

Reports have missing or incorrect data

One of the biggest challenges for construction companies is gathering all the necessary information to meet legal requirements.

For example, when filing paperwork important details may be excluded or inaccurate due to human error. This creates significant problems as it can lead to delays in approvals, fines, and even litigation.

Additionally, when it comes to environmental regulations, incorrect data can lead to costly legal consequences such as fines or even criminal prosecution.

Gaps in the onboarding process

The onboarding process is a key part of health and safety training. Throughout the induction process – there should be a trail of training received, qualifications etc.

You need to know what your construction workers are trained to do – from operating machinery to working at a height.

When there are gaps in the onboarding process, construction companies might not be fully aware of what their workers are able to do. Site workers may be assigned to projects where they lack the skills and competencies to complete the work – leading to a possible accident.

Furthermore, even if new hires are adequately trained on regulations, there can still be gaps in knowledge due to employee turnover or changes in regulations that may not be adequately communicated.

Insufficient staff training

Training doesn’t stop after the onboarding process. Construction workers should receive health and safety training annually to refresh their knowledge and catch up on any new legislation.

However, many businesses are understaffed with a lack of resources and often don’t provide the necessary training.

As a result, construction workers may not be aware of the latest laws or regulations, leading to mistakes that put the company at risk of violating legal requirements.


The current UK health and safety legislation is constantly changing, and many construction companies find it challenging to adhere to every regulation.

Non-compliance can result in financial penalties, industry disqualification, reputation damage, and the endangering of lives.

In fact, in 2022, the highest Health and Safety breach fine reached £5 million after Northern Gas Networks Ltd was held responsible for a fatal fire and gas explosion in Mirfield.

The state of Health and Safety in the UK’s construction industry

Health and Safety are essential on any construction site. There are often countless hazards on site – from working at a height to heavy and repetitive lifting.

All of these factors require health and safety regulations and regular training to reduce the risk of an accident on-site.

However, the construction industry is currently facing heavy fines and shocking statistics on work-related ill health. In 2021/22, the Health and Safety Executive found a staggering 123 workers were killed, and 1.8 million suffered from work-related ill health.

These statistics demonstrate that the industry has a long way to go in adhering to health and safety legislation.

Back in 2019, Safetybank conducted a study on 2,000 construction companies and found that a whopping 67% admitted they would fail a formal on-the-spot Health and Safety Executive site inspection. They said this was due to internal failings in recording and maintaining accurate health and safety compliance data.

Construction companies struggle to meet regulations

From missing or incorrect data in paperwork and gaps in onboarding processes to insufficient staff training, it can be difficult for construction businesses to ensure compliance with all the necessary laws and regulations.

If a construction company wants to operate legally, it must make sure that its administrative processes are up-to-date and that all staff are properly trained on the relevant laws and regulations. Doing so will help to keep them in compliance and minimise the risk of legal repercussions.

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