PILING FIRMS were given a final warning this week to comply with health and safety legislation or risk having work halted by Government inspectors.
Health & Safety Executive principal inspector Brian Brunswick gave the ultimatum to a meeting of 40 piling and drilling contractors, manufacturers and designers last Thursday.
He gave them six months to fit auger cleaning devices and guards to piling rigs in accordance with legislation introduced in 1992. After that date HSE inspectors will be instructed to carry out spot checks on site and issue prohibition notices to contractors failing to comply with the law.
'Woe betide anyone who hasn't made changes to their machines,' said Brunswick.
The action could cost the industry millions of pounds. Although the legislation came into force seven years ago, only 35% of continuous flight auger rigs have auger cleaning devices and 'virtually none' are guarded, said Brunswick.
Plant manufacturers claimed they had not been fully aware of the law but would now alter the specification of their machines.
Dawson Construction Plant managing director Robin Dawson said: 'I was surprised to find that our machines were not entirely compliant. We will certainly put guards on all our new auger cleaners and are considering retrofitting those already in the field.'
The Federation of Piling Specialists said it would meet next week to set up a working party to ensure all its members met the legislation. FPS secretary Dianne Jennings said: 'We accept that auger cleaning is a real issue but until now we were not aware of many incidents involving a moving auger leading to injury.'
But Brunswick insisted that accidents happen 'all too frequently.
'Invariably they are fatal or cause very serious injury,' he added.