The government, Health and Safety Executive (HSE), construction industry and unions have thrashed out an “action plan” to tackle the stubbornly high fatality rate within the sector.
Following a meeting between all sides in September, work and pensions secretary Peter Hain said agreement had been reached on a number of key issues.
The action plan has called for greater sharing of best practice, increased competence levels, more worker involvement, more integrated working and risk assessment, and action to drive out the “informal economy” within the sector.
On skills, Hain said he would be extending the requirement for all site workers in the house-building sector to carry a Construction Skills Certification Scheme card. Alternatively, they would need to “be able to demonstrate their occupational and health and safety competence to the same or better standard”.
The plan also called for all employees to receive induction training before they start work on a new site.
Hain said: “Long-term sustained change will not happen without a change of culture, values and behaviours. The construction industry must take ownership and work side-by-side with trade unions and government to take action and drive down these unacceptable deaths. Only by working together will we deliver and sustain results.”
A recent blitz by the HSE on construction refurbishment sites found nearly one in three was putting the lives of workers at risk (see left).
Its most recent fatality figures also reported a 25% increase in fatalities within the industry in 2006-07, reversing a two-year decline, with the sector also accounting for 31% of all fatal injuries to workers in the UK.