59 families devastated by fatal injuries in the UK construction industry in 2005/2006.


Source: IMSM Ltd

  • 24 deaths were as a result of a fall of more than 2 metres
  • The majority employed in small companies
  • An effective H & S management system seen as necessary to reduce impact further

There is a demonstrable improvement in the construction industry fatality statistics. According to the Health and Safety Commission’s “Statistics of fatal injuries “in 2005/2006 there were 59 fatal injuries in construction whereas the statistics for 2000/01 show a total of 114 people were killed as a result of construction work. An improvement - but there is still more to be done to reduce the impact on families and friends. Consistently, over five years, falls of more than 2 metres accounted for almost half of construction deaths (48%). In January 2007  Richard Lockwood, Principal Construction Inspector for the West Midlands said, 'Seventy five percent of all people killed or hurt on building sites across the country work for small companies employing fewer than 15 people.”

A sustained effort from the industry, including smaller firms, is required to secure further year-on-year improvements. The future of construction can be assured by ensuring that it can be both safe and sustainable. The construction industry can continue to improve by continuously focusing on the 'High 5’, which includes “Falls from height “. All companies have the responsibility to make sure that their employees are properly trained, have the correct equipment and are supervised. It is both in the individual and companies’ interest to ensure that training is put into practice and that work is done safely. Sufficient steps must be taken and continuously monitored to prevent the consequences of a fall. The Health and Safety Executive’s view is that a company’s failure to provide proper safe working environment and training are significant contributors to the fatality statistics. It is the companies’ duty to ensure that all workers are trained and supervised, whilst accepting it is the responsibility of individuals working on the site to make sure that they are working safely.

Work at height must be properly organised, planned and supervised by people who are competent and knowledgeable enough to select the safest solution. The current regulations include requirements to avoid work at height if at all possible: prevent falls if work is done at height, and mitigate the consequences of any potential fall. Small companies who are not large enough to employ their own safety manager can retain a Health and Safety consultant to help them develop safety management policies and procedures.

In 2005/06, 28% of all worker deaths in the UK were in the construction industry. Policing of the industry’s activities has contributed to an absolute reduction in fatalities – 59 distraught families are still too many. The construction industry has worked hard to improve the safety record; the next step is for the industry, especially smaller companies, to embrace training and to develop safety management policies and procedures even more enthusiastically. OHSAS 18001 is the Health and Safety Management standard which has been developed for international use and is based on the ISO 9001:2000 standard. It enables an organisation to control its health and safety risks and improve its performance. An effective H & S management system will not only aid the compliance with legislation but, most importantly reduce the risk to employees and their families.

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