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‘BIG SOCIETY’ SOLUTION TO CONSTRUCTION SAFETY PROBLEM

HSE Construction Chief challenges major players to do more for the minors

The reported rise in construction industry fatal injuries has prompted a challenge from HSE to all major players in the construction sector. In an interview with Construction News, Philip White the HSE Chief Construction Inspector, said:

“We know big contractors do a lot of good work right down their supply chain but, ultimately, it is important for the image of the industry that everyone improves.

A lot of companies do help by supporting working groups but we should ask: “what can the industry do to help itself on a much broader front than just helping the supply chain”.

If companies helped each other we could improve the image of the industry and that is a cultural benefit to everyone. It is about the industry helping itself and not just down to HSE”

Comment

The majority of fatal injuries now occur on smaller projects (both commercial and domestic) and involve small contractors. Many of the organisations concerned are ‘disconnected’ from the standards of safety found on most larger construction sites.

HSE’s suggestion that the ‘highly competent’ sections of the construction industry might assist the ‘less competent’ looks attractive. But what might this help look like?

Major project teams might for example engage and assist small clients and contractors working local to their project by funding and organising free short training events using their existing site facilities.  

Such an initiative would chime with the government “Big Society” theme and make a positive contribution towards the company programme of corporate social responsibility.

It may also help reach those parts of the industry which HSE struggle to influence but which damage the image of ‘construction’ and hold the key to ongoing reductions in injury and ill-health.

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