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RESPONSES TO THE FATALITIES REPORT

Industry and unions respond to Govt report into construction deaths

The report into the underlying causes of construction fatalities has attracted responses from the CBI, TUC and others.

Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

John McDonough, Chairman of the CBI Construction Council, said: Construction firms have worked hard to cut accident rates in recent years, and much progress has been made, but the number of deaths is still unacceptably high. These proposals by Rita Donaghy contain some worthwhile recommendations to improve health and safety across the industry. However, he added:

Gangmaster Law: “However, we do not believe licensing would be an effective way to reduce fatalities. The government should target resources on cracking down on firms that flout health and safety rules, rather than imposing an additional burden on law-abiding firms.

Director Duties: Leadership in health and safety is already enshrined in the law. Therefore imposing further duties on directors would be a retrograde step and simply duplicate existing law.”

Construction Minister: “A full-time, dedicated minister for construction would help raise the profile of the industry, although our preference would be for an independent Chief Construction Officer, operating in a similar way to the Chief Scientific Adviser.”

Trades Union Congress (TUC)

Brendan Barber General Secretary of the TUC said: “This is a strong endorsement of the arguments that the TUC and unions have been making for many years. The level of fatalities in this sector is totally unacceptable and we hope that the Government will act quickly to fully implement the recommendations contained in this report and so prevent more needless deaths.” He added

Directors Duties: “There is an undeniable case for a change in the law to ensure that directors ensure good health and safety practice through a framework of planning, delivery, monitoring and reviewing.”

Gangmaster Law: “extending the remit of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to include construction and revising building regulations so that health and safety is considered in building control, will help make construction sites safer places to work.”

UK Contractors Group (UKCG)

Stephen Ratcliffe of the UK Contractors Group said on Gangmaster Law: “the issue was examined very carefully last year by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform’s vulnerable workers group and the clear conclusion was that there was no justification for this. UKCG do not think anything has changed to affect that conclusion.”

Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT)

Alan Ritchie, General Secretary of UCATT, said: “This excellent hard hitting report must not be watered down. A report into construction fatalities must not be buried during the parliamentary recess.” UCATT believe that ” the two key recommendations are to extend the Gangmasters Licensing Act to cover the construction industry and for the introduction of statutory directors’ duties, which would make company bosses directly responsible if a worker was killed as a result of safety breaches.”

Comment: Industry and trades union bodies are lined up on opposite sides of the fence as regards the recommendations on Gangmaster legisaltion and Director duties. Given the current economic and politcal uncertainty it is difficult to see either recommendation reaching the top of any government legislative agenda in the near future.

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