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Most Estonian building sites not following safety rules

In its latest audit, the National Audit Office took a closer look at the fulfilment of the public construction contracts of ten buildings.
In its latest audit, the National Audit Office took a closer look at the fulfilment of the public construction contracts of ten buildings. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Only two construction sites out of 70 checked by the Estonian Labor Inspectorate this fall were found to be following all of the required safety rules. In total, 200 violations were detected and in one case work was ordered to be stopped.

The inspection of construction sites in the fall was a follow-up to similar inspections in spring and sites were checked in Harju, Ida-Viru, Lääne, Lääne-Viru, Pärnu, Põlva, Rapla, Saare, Tartu, Valga, Viljandi and Võru counties.

Inspectors looked at the ergonomics of the workplace, the condition of tools, ladders and scaffolding, use of personal protective equipment, work on the roof, and documentation, spokespeople for the Labor Inspectorate said.

The director general of the Labor Inspectorate Maret Maripuu said, compared with spring of this year, builders in Estonia have become much more careless.

"Scaffolding at construction sites continues to be deficient, safety barriers are missing, danger zones are not marked. Performance of works on the roof without safety equipment continues," Maripuu said. 

She said that as a result of explanatory work done over many years, the use of helmets has improved significantly.

"It does pose a problem, however, that the most favorably priced protective helmets are bought for workers which cannot be fastened with a chin strap. Using such helmets in construction work is almost impossible, as bowing one's head just once is enough for the helmet to be gone," Maripuu said, adding that the Labor Inspectorate will go on conducting checks of working at altitude at construction sites on a regular basis.

Where the safety of scaffolding continues to be a problem, violations related to the condition and use of ladders have become less frequent.

There are problems when it comes to the use of personal protective equipment. At five of the sites examined personal protective equipment had not even been issued to workers. 

Of the examined sites, 19 were work was being performed on rooves, and 11 violations were registered. One demolition work was ordered to be stopped.

In most cases work safety plans for the sites had been prepared and updated, and made known to workers.

The two sites without a single fault were a site of the company Fidele in Harju County and a site of Balti Vara Ehitus in Põlva County.

In the first nine months of this year, 227 work related accidents took place in the construction sector in Estonia, one of which ended in the death of an employee


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Editor: Helen Wright

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