London construction deaths double after mayor ignores safety call

Construction union UCATT has learned that construction deaths in London have doubled.

A total of 8 construction workers were killed in London in 2012/13 compared to 4 in 2011/12. In total there were 39 construction fatalities in the UK in 2012/13.

In November 2012 Jerry Swain UCATT’s Regional Secretary for the London and South East wrote to Boris Johnson the Mayor of London seeking a meeting to discuss construction safety.

The letter was also seeking Mr Johnson’s support in ensuring that all future public sector construction contracts in London used directly employed workers and that private sector projects were encouraged to use the same employment model.

Mr Johnson did not reply and failed even to acknowledge Mr Swain’s letter.

Mr Swain said: “The vast majority of construction deaths can be easily prevented. The Mayor’s refusal to even acknowledge our legitimate safety concerns demonstrates a complete lack of leadership or a concern for the safety of London construction workers.”

There is clear evidence that sites where workers are directly employed rather than self-employed are safer.

Mr Swain added: “These sites are better organised, safety levels are higher and you are more likely to see independent safety reps who dramatically improve safety.”

The advantage of direct employment was demonstrated in building the Olympics. The London games were the first ever Olympics built without a single construction death and accident rates were far lower than industry averages.

Mr Swain also said: “These deaths occurred before the industry in London has fully recovered from recession. Unless action is taken deaths and injuries are likely to increase as the industry in the capital continues to grow rapidly. I would again urge Mr Johnson to put aside partisan differences and work with UCATT to make our industry safe.”

Fiona Twycross a Labour London Assembly Member, who has previously questioned Mr Johnson about safety and direct employment in construction, said: “London construction workers are dying needlessly. These tragedies must not be ignored and the London mayor has a moral duty to intervene. I would encourage him to work actively with UCATT.”

In 2012/13 the UK the most common type of fatal construction accident was fall from heights which led to 23 deaths, 60% of all deaths recorded.

 

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