Construction Deaths in London Remain Far Too High

Research by construction union UCATT has revealed that 11 construction workers were fatally injured in London in 2008/9.

The total of 11 deaths is the same number as were killed in the capital in 2007/8. The number of deaths in London is the highest in the country.

The total number of construction deaths in the United Kingdom fell from 72 in 2007/8 to 53 in 2008/9 a decrease of 26 per cent. The decline was principally due to the recession which has led to a steep decline in construction output and in a large number of construction workers being laid off.

Construction remains the most dangerous industry in Britain. The industry is highly casualised. Many workers do not have contracts of employment, regularly move between employers and/or are bogusly self-employed. In recent years there has been a substantial increase in the number of workers being supplied to construction companies through employment agencies and gangmasters.

In Rita Donaghy’s report into the high number of construction fatalities One Death Is Too Many, published in July 2009, she highlighted as a major cause of concern the low number of Health and Safety Executive construction inspectors working in London.

Jerry Swain, Regional Secretary of UCATT’s London and South East Region, said: “Each of these deaths is an individual tragedy. It is appalling that deaths in London are as high this year as they were last year, despite the large drop in construction work being undertaken in London. It is essential that the level of inspections, enforcement and prosecutions is increased so that construction workers are better protected. This number of deaths in London must never be repeated.”

Further analysis of the national data on fatalities shows that the most likely cause of death remains falls. In 2008/9 there were 21 deaths caused by falls, 40% of all deaths. The second highest number of deaths were caused by people being hit by a moving or falling object, this accounted for 5 deaths, 9% of the overall total.

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