UCATT slams derisory number of Health and Safety Executive inspectors

On the day the UK construction industry remembers lost colleagues – who died in the UK’s most dangerous industry - UCATT has learned via a Freedom of Information Request the true of level of governmental health and safety scrutiny in the industry – and is appalled.

Construction is one of the largest sectors in the UK economy. It is worth around £100bn or 6.7 per cent of GDP. It comprises 280,000 businesses and almost 3m jobs which is equivalent to about 10 per cent of the total UK population. It’s also the most dangerous industry to work in – with 35 worker fatalities in 2014/15.

And yet, the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) monitoring of this gargantuan, vital and highly dangerous industry is done by a mere 132 individuals. And this is a figure that is dropping – in an industry experiencing increased activity. It was 141 in 2011/12.

London, the South East and the East of England represent almost half of the UK’s total construction activity - a whopping 46 per cent of the entire construction sector. These sectors are in the midst of a boom - and yet have a mere 36 HSE inspectors. This is a huge 25 per cent drop from the 48 inspectors in 2011/12, when there was less construction industry activity.

UCATT Acting General Secretary, Brian Rye, said: “There are several conclusions that can be drawn from these shocking figures. Either, the HSE has managed to breed a super-human species of health and safety inspector with powers beyond the range of us normal human beings or this is just a pitiful number of individuals with an impossible job?

Maybe the UK construction industry is really the safest industry on the planet and doesn’t need much monitoring? If this were so, how come 35 people died at work in the construction industry last year? Or maybe this Government has little or no regard for the safety of the British construction worker, and has little or no interest in policing the working practises of the major constructors?

On this day when we remember those workers who lost their lives because of a lack of health and safety in the workplace, a British government should be utterly ashamed that its capital city, London, one of the great metropolitan centres of the world – in the midst of a construction boom – has become effectively unmonitored for safety. This union calls on the British Government to do its rightful duty and protect the hardworking citizens in the construction industry. One more death, is one too many.”

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