Construction fatalities up 22%

A total of 40 fatalities were recorded in the UK construction sector in the year to 31st March 2020, new figures from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) have revealed.

The number is 22% higher than the low of 31 seen in 2018/19.

Although numbers have fluctuated, the annual average rate over the last five years in construction is around four times as high as the all-industry rate.

Across all industrial sectors, the three most common causes of fatal injuries continue to be workers falling from height (29), being struck by a moving vehicle (20) and being struck by a moving object (18), accounting for 60% of fatal injuries in 2019/20.

Following the release, HSE’s chief executive, Sarah Albon, said: “No one should be hurt or killed by the work they do. In these extraordinary times, we have seen many workers risking their lives to help others during the coronavirus outbreak. Although these statistics are not a reflection on COVID-19 related loss of life, it is a pertinent time to reflect.

“Every workplace fatality is a tragedy and while we are encouraged by this improvement, today’s statistics are a reminder that we cannot become complacent as we look to continue to work together to make Great Britain an even safer place to live and work.”

Sarah Albon added: “These statistics remind us that in certain sectors of the economy, fatal injury in the workplace remains worryingly high. Agriculture, forestry and fishing accounts for a small fraction of the workforce of Great Britain, yet accounted for around 20 per cent of worker fatalities in the last year. This is unacceptable and more must be done to prevent such fatalities taking place.

“Work-related deaths fracture families, they shatter communities, and so many of them can be avoided. The work that HSE does is about more than numbers, we are continually working with duty holders to ensure that they assess and appropriately manage risk to their employees. These efforts are a vital part of keeping essential services going, particularly as duty holders adapt to the current circumstances.”

Lesley McLeod, CEO of the Association for Project Safety, said: “Construction needs to work much harder to reduce the toll working in the industry has on employees across the country. There can be no room for unsafe sites. But more needs to be done at the planning stage too.

“The Association for Project Safety believes many accidents resulting in death and life-changing injuries could be prevented by greater emphasis on design risk management before anyone ever sets foot on site.

“Safety must become an integral part of every project – not matter how big or small. It should never be side-lined because of cost considerations and must be at the heart of everything the construction sector does.”

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