UNSAFE practices on construction sites across St Helens are being targeted as part of a national initiative aimed at reducing death, injury and ill health.

To support a month-long drive to improve standards in one of Britain’s most dangerous industries, inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are visiting sites across Merseyside where refurbishment or repair works are taking place.

They will make unannounced visits to ensure companies are managing high-risk activity, such as working at height.

They will also check for general good order, assess welfare facilities and check whether suitable Personal Protective Equipment, such as head protection, is being used appropriately.

During 2011/12, two workers were killed while working in construction in Merseyside and a further 53 were seriously injured. Nationally there were 49 deaths and more than 2,800 major injuries.

The purpose of the initiative is to remind those working in the industry that poor standards are unacceptable and could result in enforcement action.

Neil Jamieson, HSE Principal Inspector for Construction in Merseyside, said: "Death and injury continue to result from avoidable incidents and it is largely those engaged in refurbishment and repair work who are failing to step up to the mark.

"Poor management of risks and a lack of awareness of responsibilities are unacceptable.

"In many cases, simple changes to working practices can make all the difference and can even save lives.

"Therefore if we find evidence that workers are being unnecessarily put at risk we will take strong action.

"We are determined to drive the message home that site safety and worker welfare cannot be compromised."