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Clients slammed for lax attitude to safety

Carillion boss attacks clients and Government for not prioritising health and safety records of contractors

THE BOSS of top-three contractor Carillion has rounded on clients for not doing enough to promote better health and safety practices throughout the industry.

Chief executive John McDonough said a proper health and safety strategy should be one of the main criteria in clients awarding a job.

He said: 'I would like to see the client be more demanding of a contractor on health and safety. Clients should be asking to see contractors' health and safety records, and that doesn't mean having two pages as an addendum at the back of a bid document.'

Mr McDonough said a few companies were taking health and safety issues into account when awarding jobs but predicted it would be another five years at least before this became the norm.

He added: 'We are an industry that kills people. We would like clients to be driving us rather than us pushing at them.

They ought to be prepared to pay more for someone who works in a safe environment than someone who doesn't.'

When he joined the £2 billion turnover firm from a non-traditional contracting background at Johnson Controls two years ago, Mr McDonough immediately insisted Carillion's health and safety statistics should include near-misses on site.

He said: 'In the services sector, health and safety is taken very seriously indeed.'

He reserved some of his fiercest criticism for construction's biggest client, the Government, which accounts for around 60 per cent of Carillion's turnover.

Mr McDonough said: 'I think the Government could do better. Some departments are doing well but some are not. We think a lot more can be done, more quickly.'

His comments are the latest in a series of high-profile outbursts from construction's top bosses calling for safety to be placed further up the industry agenda.

Kier chairman Colin Busby recently said: 'The Government has a commitment to improving its health and safety by setting targets, monitoring performance and ensuring that all people at risk on its sites have sufficient training and documentary proof of competence.'