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CONSTRUCTION HEALTH AND SAFETY NEWS: 16 JUNE 2008

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Philip Poynter   

RECENT FATAL INCIDENTS

We are aware of two construction sector deaths during May 2008. The HSE monthly list of fatal injury notifications should be available shortly. The deaths occurred when (a) an excavator breached a cliff-side road barrier and (b) a workman fell through an opening in the floor of an apartment block.

Falling steel causes death on major contractor project

A steel beam fell from a lorry and struck a nearby worker on this major new build project. Advice on the safe delivery and unloading of steel products was contained in our News Desk last week.

INDUSTRY HEALTH AND SAFETY TARGETS

Construction health and safety targets set for 2012

The Construction Industry and Government have set revised health and safety targets leading up to 2012. The targets have been published in the Strategy for Sustainable Construction (see page 25 of the report). The Strategic Forum for Construction is promoting these targets and urging all construction companies to support the agenda by putting their name to the Construction Commitments. The revised targets are:

By 2010

  • Training: Fully trained, qualified and competent workforce on all projects
  • Fatal and major injuries: Reduce the incidence rate of fatal and major injury accidents by 10% year on year from 2000 levels
  • Ill-health: Reduce the incidence rate of cases of work-related ill health by 20% from 2000 levels

By 2012

  • Fatal and major injuries: 10% year on year reduction in the incidence rate of fatal and major injuries from 2010 levels
  • Occupational health support: 50% increase in projects offering a route to such support from 2008
  • Health and safety training for SME’s: 30% increase from 2007 level of SMEs taking up health & safety training and education at an organisational level

Comment: The headline target of a 10% reduction year on year in the incidence rate of fatal and major injuries could prove difficult. The latest validated figures show fatal injuries rising by 28% and major injuries falling by under 5% per year.  The focus on training in the SME sector is to be welcomed. Measuring progress with some of these targets may present a further challenge!

REFURBISHMENT

Latest HSE inspection initiative reveals little improvement

An HSE refurbishment sector initiative earlier this month resulted in over half the projects visited being served with prohibition notices. Unsafe work at height accounted for the majority of the enforcement action with dangerous and untidy sites also being a major problem. Comment: Refurbishment projects account for 60 percent of all injuries in construction yet represent only 40 percent of construction activity. This initiative shows that certain sections of the refurbishment sector are not receiving or acting upon warnings from the regulator. The sector is a priority for HSE in 2008 and further initiatives of this nature can be expected throughout the year.

ENFORCEMENT

Fall though fragile roof

A small business has been fined £3k after an 18-year-old employee fell 4m through an fibre cement roof whilst cleaning the roof. He fractured his leg and was off work for several months. Comment: This young man and the company are very fortunate. Falls through fragile structures are often fatal. Since April 2008 a company could also find itself charged with Corporate Manslaughter when a death occurs in such circumstances. Falls through fragile structures have resulted in some 70 construction worker deaths over the last decade. The majority of these deaths occurred when a rooflight (50%) or fibre cement roof sheet (36%) failed under a persons weight. 

Manslaughter charge for factory depot owners following fire

A firework depot owner and his son have been charged with manslaughter over the deaths of two firefighters. Twelve other people were injured in the explosions and blaze, including nine fire fighters and a police officer. Comment: This is an interesting development with implications for all who own or occupy buildings. It shows that manslaughter charges may be brought arising from the death of emergency service personnel dealing with an event initiated by the duty holder. 

Prosecutions added to the HSE database in the last 7 days

There were no prosecutions taken by HSE Construction Division which were added to the database in the last week.   

Notices added to HSE database in the last 7 days

The above link finds the 36 Prohibition and Improvement Notices issued by HSE Construction Division and added to the database in the last week.    

COURT OF APPEAL JUDGEMENTS

Court considers test as to adequacy of training for health and safety

Court clarifies duty of non-employer to injured workers on premises (page4)

Court determines no compensation for adventure seeker

OTHER NEWS

Review of timber frame fire risk issues

HSE raises the profile on fire risk in timber frame sector

Three injured in fall from mobile elevating work platform

New York crane inspector arrested

END

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