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Keep the pressure up on safety issue

Sir,

FOLLOWING the report on health and safety on sites (Construction News, November 20), I feel I must spring to the defence of the Health and Safety Executive inspectors.

Through my union, the Professional Divers Association, part of the AEEU, I began a campaign in 1991 to get full-time diving inspectors to patrol the civil diving industry, as was the case on the North Sea. Helped by a considerable publicity campaign, including an article in Construction News (November 26, 1992), the HSE acceded to my suggestions and since April last year we have had dedicated diving inspectors.

The number of serious incidents for divers has declined significantly, in sharp contrast to the position elsewhere in the industry.

I am delighted that the safety inspectors are to abandon their 'softly, softly' approach, as it is only by well-publicised prosecutions and unannounced visits that cowboys can be caught out.

My campaign, which I was repeatedly told would never succeed, shows that a determined

effort can achieve results.

Even though I am now over 61, I intend to continue to dive and to champion the cause of on-shore divers - still very much under-paid - and to highlight the problems of divers working overseas, where safety standards seem much lower than in this country.

US-run companies seem particularly cavalier in their attitude towards safety when working away from the North Sea. I believe we owe it to any workers killed or injured overseas to ensure that some notice should be taken of this.

I hope your readers will join with me in my campaign to help protect all workers in the industry working overseas.

Michael Cocks

Kensington Park Gardens

London W11