HSE to target firms over building deaths

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Britain's big construction companies are to be targeted by the Health and Safety Executive following a 20 per cent increase in deaths on building sites.

Britain's big construction companies are to be targeted by the Health and Safety Executive following a 20 per cent increase in deaths on building sites.

The executive believes large groups are putting profits and the need to finish projects quickly before safety. Until recently the HSE concentrated its 116 construction inspectors on policing the activities of subcontractors and firms which supply the industry with materials.

The HSE is now switching its attention to the larger groups. "We want them to stop going for the lowest quote, which runs the risk of attracting cowboys and increasing accidents. They should be concentrating on getting value for money, which means they take quality and safety into account," an official said.

Sources at the HSE said that companies like Kvaerner, Amec, Bovis Lend Lease, Balfour Beatty and Carillion would be among the groups to receive special attention.

Figures yesterday showed 86 workers and members of the public died because of construction accidents in the year to March - representing about a third of all work-related deaths - compared with 68 the previous year. Jenny Bacon, director-general of the HSE, said her organisation would need to "get into the boardrooms of the big companies".

George Brumwell, general secretary of the construction union Ucatt, welcomed the change in HSE policy, but urged the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to call a "summit" on safety in construction. He said union members who complained about safety issues were often the subject of intimidation.

Throughout industry, the number of fatal accidents fell from 253 to 218 in the year to March.

Comments