Government forum set to focus on ways of reducing construction industry deaths

Employers, trade unions and business groups must find new ways to cut deaths in the construction industry, the government announced today.

Peter Hain, the work and pensions secretary, will ask businesses and key industry figures to join a forum this September, to focus on ways to improve health and safety in the house-building and refurbishment sectors.

The news comes after the government passed the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Bill this week, which determines that companies, not individual directors, will be responsible for deaths of employees at work due to company negligence.

Last year, construction deaths leapt by more than 25%, with 78 people dying in the sector.

Hain said: “Any rise in fatalities is not only shocking, it is completely unacceptable. It is vital that everyone involved in the construction industry puts health and safety first – everyone from clients to employers, designers to suppliers, large construction firms right down to the smallest builders.

“I have also asked the Health and Safety Executive to redouble their efforts in driving improvements within the construction industry.”

Hain added that with the government’s announcement to build 3 million new homes over the next few years, and large scale developments such as the Olympics, the industry and government must do “all we can” to ensure the health and safety of construction workers is put first.

Alan Ritchie, general secretary of construction union UCATT, welcomed the news. He said: “Bad bosses who allow their workers to be killed or maimed will be brought to book. It is a stain on the construction industry that so many building workers are fatally injured.”

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