Fatalities ‘at risk of increasing’, Health and Safety chief admitsBeat The Cowboy Builder
Deaths and injuries on UK building sites could increase as the industry comes out of the downturn, the Heath and Safety Executive has warned.
Health and Safety Chief Inspector of Construction Heather Bryant admitted there was “definitely a risk that injuries and fatalities will increase” as workloads rise.
She said fatalities usually fall during a recession and then increase again as the volume of work on site picks up and the industry’s workforce expands.
Ms Bryant acknowledged there was “pressure to build, build, build” and warned that “contractors need to be careful about who they bring into the industry” to fill the skills gap.
“What we want to make sure, and it’s still early days, is that we don’t let history repeat itself and we do not see that rise.”
The number of construction worker fatalities in the year to April 2014 will not be confirmed by the HSE until July, but Ms Bryant said she expected the figure to be “broadly similar” to the 39 fatalities in 2012/13.
Major contractors improved their health and safety performance in 2013, according to UK Contractors Group data, which showed the average number of reportable injuries per 100,000 people at work among its members was 307 in 2013, down from 357 in 2012 and 407 in 2011.
UKCG director Stephen Ratcliffe said in the next 12 months, contractors would have to ensure they employ qualified people and provide appropriate inductions as the industry grows.
“This has a huge impact on performance and we must not take shortcuts because the skills are harder to find,” he said.
Prime minister David Cameron this week said £36bn of planned UK infrastructure investment for 2014/15 could support more than 150,000 construction jobs.
In January, CITB research revealed the construction industry needed to recruit 36,400 people a year to 2018 as a skills shortage loomed.
Ucatt regional director for London and the South-east Jerry Swain said he expected the number of construction fatalities to get worse before it improved and warned contractors not to take shortcuts as work picked up.
Workloads rise, Health and Safety is neglected and the Cowboys tend to thrive.
See on www.cnplus.co.uk