Safety warning over fall in HSE construction prosecutions

Grant Prior 3 months ago
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Union leaders have raised the alarm over a rise in construction injuries and a fall in prosecutions by the Health and Safety Executive.

Unite said latest figures highlight a ‘dangerous cocktail’.

While industry experts have also flagged concerns over the effectiveness of the HSE to police construction.

Latest HSE figures show that the number of non-fatal injuries per 100,000 workers rose from 359 in 2017/18 to 366 in 2018/19.

During the corresponding timeframe there was a 22 per cent decrease in the number of construction prosecutions being undertaken by the HSE which fell from 202 in 2017/18 to 158 in 2018/19.

Unite national officer Jerry Swain said: “These figures are deeply worrying.

“The increase in injuries is likely to in part be a result of employers failing to comply with safety laws.

“Unite firmly believes that a major contributory factor to this is the sharp decline in prosecutions, which clearly indicate that the HSE’s enforcement activities are decreasing.

“This is a dangerous cocktail and it will likely to result in a greater number of workers being injured and possibly killed unless urgent action is taken to reverse this trend.

“These figures show the importance of having a strong, active and interventionist HSE.”

But construction policy makers fear that is far from the case.

One leading figure said: “The HSE has been pretty much neutered.

“It used to be the case that when HSE officials sat down with construction chiefs they used to have a proper debate over policy.

“But those conversations are more one-way now with a lot of the experienced HSE people having left and the HSE just feels like another arm of the civil service now – which is not healthy for anyone.”

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