European construction reps sign up to improve health and safety

The top representative bodies in Europe’s 900bn euros (£632bn) construction industry signed a landmark declaration today, committing them to specific measures to improve the sector’s health and safety standards.

Despite recent progress, the construction industry, which employs more than 12 million people, has one of the poorest health and safety records in Europe.

According to the latest available statistics for the pre-enlargement EU, nearly 1,200 construction workers are killed each year, and more than 800,000 are involved in accidents requiring more than three days off work.

In terms of lost productivity, health costs and other expenses, the financial cost to the EU is estimated to exceed 75bn euros (£53bn) a year – equivalent to 200 euros (£141) per person in the EU.

The Bilbao Declaration, which was signed at the European Construction Safety Summit today, sets out five key actions that need to be taken to improve health and safety standards in Europe’s construction industry.

Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, director of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, said: “As a result of this declaration, we expect to see significant improvements in safety and health standards throughout Europe’s construction industry, and commensurately lower costs, both human and financial. This will be in everyoneÕs interests Ð businesses, workers and clients.”

The five key actions set out in the declaration are:



  • Integrate health and safety standards into procurement policies, supported by guidelines for purchasing goods and services

  • Ensure health and safety is taken into account at the design and planning stages of construction projects

  • Use site inspections and other techniques to encourage more businesses to comply with health and safety legislation

  • Develop guidelines to help businesses comply with this legislation, especially small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

  • Stimulate higher standards of helth and safety through social dialogue and agreements on training, accident reduction targets and other issues.

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