Companies escape corporate manslaughter convictions in the deaths of construction workers

The number of convictions of companies responsible for the death of construction workers has fallen by nearly 75% despite the number of workers being killed rising, a report has revealed.

The report by the Centre for Corporate Accountability, for construction union Ucatt found that in a six-year period from 1998 to 2004 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecutions in construction deaths fell from 42% to just 11%.

The number of deaths on construction sites is likely to rise by 25% this year, the union estimates.

Alan Ritchie, general secretary of Ucatt, said: “The failure of the HSE to prosecute companies which kill their workers is profoundly shocking. The HSE is clearly failing to follow its own rules and guidelines on prosecutions. Serious questions must be asked about why the HSE is so spectacularly failing to prosecute more companies.”

The report also shows that there are huge regional differences in the likelihood of a company being prosecuted when a construction worker is killed. It is three times more likely that a conviction will occur in the South West (31%) than in the East Midlands (9%).

HSE chief excutive Geoffrey Podger said: “We share Ucatt’s concern that there are too many deaths in the construction industry. The HSE takes fatal accidents very seriously and our staff are very committed to their investigation and, where right, prosecution.”

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