Concern as Construction Injuries Increase and HSE Prosecutions Sharply Fall
Recent figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have shown a notable increase in construction injuries, but a surprising fall in prosecutions. This has raised a lot of concerns from Unite (the UK’s construction union), employers, and workers at large, despite recent improvements in safety.
What Do the Figures Show?
According to HSE, the number of non-fatal injuries per 100,000 construction workers increased from 359 in 2017/18 to 366 in 2018/19. The number of HSE construction prosecutions decreased by 22% during the corresponding timeframe, having fallen from 202 in 2017/18 to 158 in 2018/19, per 100,000 workers. A report released in July shows that 30 construction workers were killed in 2018/19, which is a record low for the industry even with the current rise in injuries and sharp decrease in prosecutions.
Jerry Swain, Unite national officer, said: “These figures are deeply worrying. While, of course, we welcome that the number of deaths has decreased, this has to be tempered with the fact that construction injuries have gone up.
“The increase in injuries is likely to, in part, be a result of employers failing to comply with safety laws.
“Unite firmly believes that a major contributory factor to this is the sharp decline in prosecutions, which clearly indicates that the HSE’s enforcement activities are decreasing.
“This is a dangerous cocktail, and it will be likely to result in a greater number of workers being injured and possibly killed unless urgent action is taken to reverse this trend.
“Too many employers in construction remain prepared to ignore safety laws, to boost profits, as they believe that they won’t be caught.
“These figures show the importance of having a strong, active, and interventionist HSE.”
As outlined by Jerry, the fall in HSE prosecutions is a major contributory factor to the rise in construction injuries, which is expected to increase, and so does the number of deaths lest a probable action is taken as soon as possible.
What is Your Role?
You need to prioritise the safety of your workplace and workers at all times. This includes adhering to all the set safety laws; however straightforward they may look. Ensure to provide safety solutions to the common construction site hazards, including falls (the leading cause of injuries and deaths), being struck by objects, and being caught between objects. Conduct a risk assessment and make arrangements to implement fall protection systems.
Workers require proper equipment for the job at hand to work efficiently while preventing any possible injuries. Ensure to look for equipment ideally suited for the task; in this case, CE marked fabrications - recommended for their quality and adherence to the workplace safety standards and directives.
Making your workers and every person that steps foot onto the site familiar with all potential hazards and the relevant remedies is essential in preventing accidents. Ensure to also provide enough training on standard safety and security practices to your workers, and only allow competent workers to operate machinery and work at height. The training should also include how to best respond to accidents.
When workers are unsure of what to expect, accidents may be inevitable. It’s important that workers are equipped with fast communication devices such as headsets, walkie-talkies, or smartphones for efficient communication with one another. This will ensure every staff is informed and that they’re doing their job as expected.