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Ucatt fear safety shortcuts

Construction union Ucatt has expressed concerns that construction related deaths could increase as the industry recovers from recession.

A report released by the Health and Safety Executive earlier today revealed that the number of construction workers killed at work has fallen by 21 per cent this year, but Ucatt general secretary Alan Ritchie has attributed the drop to a fall in construction activity due to the downturn.

Mr Ritchie said: “The reduction in construction deaths is good news. Yet, it must never be forgotten that each death is an individual tragedy. The reduction is primarily due to the economic downturn, which has not only meant that fewer people are working on construction sites, but has reduced time pressures, reduced working hours, and decreased the number of inexperienced workers on site, all of which are major factors in accidents.

“The challenge for everyone concerned about safety is to ensure that the number of deaths in construction continues to be reduced as the industry recovers and activity increases. Rather than looking to reduce safety provisions the Government should be ensuring workers are safe by increasing the number of inspections and enforcement activity.”

The union also expressed fears that Lord Young’s current review of safety regulations could lead to a weakening of safety standards.

A total of 41 construction workers died at work this year compared to 52 in 2008/09 - a significant drop on the average of 66 deaths per year over the past five years.            

The rate of fatal injuries in the sector was 2.0 per 100,000 workers, making it one of the most dangerous industries in which to work.

Of the 41 construction workers killed, 29 were employees and 12 were self employed people.

Four members of the public were also killed in accidents connected to work in the sector.