As reported by Ucatt construction union, the total number of construction deaths rose 25% last year, with a possible increase of 10-15% this year. Contrastingly, the proportion of employee deaths to convictions for companies responsible has decreased from 42% in 1998 to 11% in 2004. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been under verbal attack over this fall of prosecution of the companies and the construction fatalities.
Ucatt general secretary Alan Ritchie is very surprised at the fall of convictions. He asserts that the HSE is not following their own guidelines, and is failing to uphold standards in convicting construction companies responsible for the deaths of workers.
In defense, the HSE deems some of the statistics as “inaccurate.” Chief Executive Geoffrey Podger stated that it is not always possible to get prosecutions, and that there are no prosecutions without convincing evidence and public interest.
Despite the disagreement, one thing is certain…construction deaths are rising again. Even more important than the prosecutions and convictions of companies responsible for the industry deaths, is the issue of how to stop these deaths from happening. The real issue is not about pinning the blame on the industrial companies, it is finding a way to stop the fatalities, whether the companies are at fault or not.