Site deaths show folly of HSE cuts
Six construction deaths were killed in the week the government announced the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) budget was to be slashed. Construction union UCATT said the rash of fatalities should be seen as a warning that drastic cuts in HSE's funding could leave workers entering the industry at additional risk as the sector recovers from the recession. UCATT general secretary Alan Ritchie said: 'Every one of these deaths was an individual tragedy. Each death underlines the dangers faced by construction workers. Sadly these risks will increase if the already low levels of inspections and enforcement activities are reduced.' The union says the impact of the 35 per cent cut in HSE's budget could be compounded as the government introduces measures recommended in Lord Young's report into health and safety. It says a series of six private member's bills introduced by Tory MP Chris Chope designed to push through the changes are a 'major concern', particularly provisions to relax reporting requirements under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR). The union points to Liverpool University research that found just 32 per cent of reportable injuries to employees and 12 per cent of those suffered by the self-employed were actually reported. Mr Ritchie added: 'At a time when it is clear that increased vigilance is necessary to ensure safety, the Conservatives are proposing to weaken the existing laws. The problem is that accidents are not being reported. Weakening the rules will make the problem worse and will further increase the danger faced by workers.' HSE's new fatality figures showed the number of construction workers killed on site fell to 42 in 2009/10, down from 52 in 2008/09 and continuing a downward trend in fatalities from the recent high of 105 in 2000/01.
Issued: 5 November, 2010