Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said responsibility for safety on the £745m Aberdeen bypass “rests with the contractor” in response to CN’s investigation into the project.
Ms Sturgeon was asked about CN’s publication of internal safety reports at this week’s First Minister’s Questions by Labour MSP for Aberdeen Lewis MacDonald.
Mr MacDonald said the safety reports published by CN “suggest that accidents on the project have been chronically under-reported” and called on the first minister to order an inquiry into the management of safety on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR).
Responding to his question, Ms Sturgeon said: “We expect any contractor on any project that we’re responsible for to work to the highest standards of health and safety and that applies to the AWPR.
“We take all allegations very seriously and I’ve raised this matter with the contractor.
“It’s important to stress that responsibility of health and safety on site rests with the contractor.
“However, the Health and Safety Executive as I understand it visited in April 2017 and was content with the processes in place, but we will continue to discuss any concerns directly with the contractor.”
An investigation by Construction News obtained internal safety documents that recorded 115 safety incidents during the project’s first 11 months on site in 2015.
The figures differed substantially from the publicly available safety statistics published by client Transport Scotland in March 2018, which reported 23 accidents in 2015.
When CN presented these figures to Transport Scotland, it said it did “not recognise the way in which [the] figures had been interpreted or presented” and declined to offer an alternative interpretation.
The internal safety reports showed accidents increased by 225 per cent over the course of the project’s first year.
Average accidents per month between February and July 2015 stood at 5.2, before rocketing to a monthly average of 16.8 between August and December of that year.
The investigation also heard from former workers on the £745m project who said they quit over health and safety concerns, claiming they had raised fears that repeated accidents on site would eventually lead to a fatality.
CN reported accusations of supervisors being overstretched, and saw evidence of staff working upwards of 70-hour weeks on the scheme.
The £745m project is being delivered by a joint venture of Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try, after their former JV partner Carillion collapsed in January.
Work has been repeatedly delayed, with completion now due in autumn this year.