Government to set minimum standards for public build jobs

There should be common minimum health and safety standards for publicly-funded construction projects, the government has said in its response to a major investigation into health and safety in construction.

The response to former Acas chair Rita Donaghy’s report on construction deaths, originally published last summer, has accepted 23 of the 28 recommendations made at the time.

This includes support for:

  • Common minimum standards throughout publicly-funded construction projects

  • Greater worker participation in health and safety

  • A pledge to look further at the report’s recommendations to introduce more legal duties on company directors and to extend licensing regulations to the construction ­industry.

Although occupational health was outside the scope of the inquiry, the government’s response did agree with Donaghy’s recommendation that the industry needed to make “renewed efforts” to tackle this issue.

Work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper said: “This recommendation provides a timely spur to reinvigorate and add to efforts by the Health and Safety Executive, the industry and trade unions to further raise awareness of the importance of tackling health alongside safety issues and, importantly, to continue efforts in convincing the construction industry why it needs to tackle health issues at least as seriously as safety matters.”

While welcoming the response, the construction union Ucatt said it was essential that the outstanding issues of the gangmasters in the industry and directors’ duties when it came to health and safety were now resolved.

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