News

Cuts push up construction deaths

15 April 2011

The number of deaths on construction sites has risen as a result of corner-cutting during the recession, Building reported.

The news comes as the Health and Safety Executive faces budget cuts of 35% and is expected to cut the number of proactive site inspections it makes.

It is the first time in four years that fatalities have increased, said Construction News. The provisional number of deaths in the 12 months to April 2011 will be published this summer. While the HSE would not be drawn on the exact number, chief construction inspector Philip White said the figure would be higher than the 42 fatalities recorded in 2009/10.

White said the figures were particularly disappointing as fatalities usually drop in line with activity during a downturn.Instead he confirmed reports of clients “asking for too much” and squeezing contractors’ margins “to the extent that health and safety is going to suffer”.

“Some of those issues might not feed through for two or three years so clients need to be aware that they have responsibilities under the regulations to ensure there is an adequate resource for health and safety,” he said.

However, White also confirmed that 24 construction inspectors would not have their contracts renewed when they come to an end in June.

The official figures are expected to confirm the trend of smaller sites accounting for a greater proportion of deaths, Construction Enquirer reported, with small refurbishment jobs still an accident blackspot.

White said that last year had seen an unusual level of multiple fatalities, with three incidents in which more than one person was killed.Last October two men were killed by a brick wall collapse at a site in Worlingworth, Suffolk. In January four men at a Claxton Engineering site in Great Yarmouth were killed by a collapsing steel structure and in February a father and son died after a concrete roof collapsed at a site in Leicestershire.

“It is unusual to get three multiple fatalities in a year and they are all around structural stability-type issues.

“It is disappointing for everyone concerned and all three incidents are a timely reminder that people need to get their temporary works in good order,” he said.

Comments

It is unfortunate sand unedifying that the HSE is trying to blame the recession for recent construction deaths.
Has the budget for the sites concerned been examined in detail? Have the contractors concerned confirmed that their clients have squeezed them so much that they have cut corners? If so, I look forward to prosecutions. Of course, there may be some political hype in the HSE statement.

Grahame Wiggin, 15 April 2011

Sorry to know this! Yes, it is very important to have temporary works in good order on site. I put forward a reliability assessment method for temporary works in 1994 and this has been adopted in some large construction projects in China.

George Chen, 17 April 2011

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