Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to the newest version of your browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of Construction News, please enable cookies in your browser.

Welcome to the Construction News site. As we have relaunched, you will have to sign in once now and agree for us to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

First minister: Take some responsibility

Zak Garner-Purkis

Nicola Sturgeon may have struggled to recall the costs of setting up an independent Scotland when grilled by Channel 4 last week.

But she was certainly not lost for words when talking about accountability on Transport Scotland’s £745m Aberdeen bypass a few days earlier.

“It’s important to stress that responsibility for health and safety on site rests with the contractor,” Ms Sturgeon told First Minister’s Questions.

The first minister was responding to the findings of a CN investigation into safety, which contained serious allegations by former staff about safety standards on the much-maligned road project.

She wasn’t the first of those involved to dump health and safety responsibilities on the contractor.

That was also the response from Transport Scotland, which told CN it had been working to “enhance health and safety standards” despite these not being its “responsibility”.

The most powerful responses to those lines from Transport Scotland and Ms Sturgeon have come from you, our readership.

Your emails and website comments made the point emphatically that safe projects start with active and engaged clients that want to play key roles in making projects as safe as possible, rather than those happy to spout rhetoric about standards but then lay the blame at the contractor’s door as soon as concerns are raised.

If an accident happens on a project, it is as much of a black mark against the client as it is the contractor.

That’s not to take responsibility away from the contractor, merely pointing out that if clients wash their hands of health and safety, what message does that send their contractors?

Transport Scotland and Ms Sturgeon’s attempt to pass responsibility entirely onto the contractor is even more surprising when you consider that just two years ago a worker died on another flagship project: the Queensferry Crossing.

I’m not suggesting that poor health and safety led to that tragedy. But you would hope it would push the client to take a renewed interest in how all of its projects are being run.

Next time it would be refreshing to hear the first minister taking responsibility rather than passing the buck.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.