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Rogue builders put the lives of workers at risk


Sir, I have managed numerous construction contracts in the past 35 years and I know that most of the major contractors take their safety responsibilities very seriously and try hard to provide a safe workplace.

Most of my construction management career has been on large civils projects but more recently I have been working on a freelance basis and sometimes I am required to work on jobs that I would not usually be too interested in.

In my most recent assignment I had the misfortune to be involved with a large house building contractor on a site where it was immediately noticeable there were no visible management systems in place.

Discrete groups of workers or trades seemed to operate in the absence of any kind of management control of their daily activities. On the whole the workforce decided among themselves what work they would undertake each day, mainly inspired by their ability to make more money.

Needless to say this had a drastic effect on site safety. Considerations given to safe working were left entirely in the hands of the workers.

On my second day there a bricklayer fell from a scaffold and fractured his wrist. The NHBC safety adviser investigating the accident complained that too many safety regulations were producing a nanny state and that he thought the defective scaffolding that contributed to the accident was a mere technicality. I suspect the injured man would not agree.

I am led to believe that the head office management of the company has been aware of the shortcomings on this site but has shown a breathtaking complacency in allowing it to continue to run completely out of control.

The purpose of this letter is to express my real sense of anger and frustration that workers on some housing sites are still being exposed to unsafe work by companies far more attuned to monetary considerations than to safety.

Although skills training and safety awareness education have been of significant value in improving site safety over the years it is obvious there are still construction companies that are spectacularly ignorant of their responsibilities towards the safety of their own workforce.

There has to be some way of bringing these rogue companies to account but I fear they will continue to put workers lives at risk long after I retire.

John Simes Clayton Heights Bradford