Plans to cut down on the number of health and safety regulations announced today by the government will lead to an increase in accidents on site, the largest construction trade union has warned.
UCATT said the recommendations laid out in the Löfstedt Review – which the government has pledged to implement – would put construction workers at risk.
The union wants construction “clearly exempted” from the report’s proposal that self employed workers who “pose no risk to others” should be exempt from health and safety laws.
It said the change would create a “legal nightmare” as over half of workers in the construction industry are officially classed as self-employed.
UCATT acting general secretary George Guy said: “This proposal from Löfstedt would be disastrous if implemented in the construction industry.
“Workers would not know if they were covered by safety legislation. While, companies would try to divest themselves of safety duties, by increasing the number of false self-employed workers. Already construction companies all too often fail to comply with basic safety legislation and this proposal will make a bad situation far worse.”
The review also proposes scrapping the Tower Crane Register which was introduced last year following a series of fatal incidents.
Mr Guy said: “The latest fatality involving a tower crane was just a matter of weeks ago. Cranes by their very nature are dangerous especially if they are not properly maintained or erected. Rather than scrapping the register it should be extended to include all industries and all forms of cranes.”
Plans to review the working at height regulations amid claims some companies over interpret the rules also raised concerns, as falls from height remain the most common type of fatal accidents in the construction industry
Mr Guy added: “Yet again the focus is on reducing burdens on business rather than concentrating on the safety of workers. In the vast majority of accidents, if simple measures had been undertaken, fatal falls from heights could have been prevented.”