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July 30, 2008

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Clamour grows for more inspections in construction

Another influential group of MPs has pressed the HSE to devote more resources to inspections to reduce the number of deaths in the construction sector.

As part of a general report into the sector, the Business and Enterprise Committee said it welcomed industry-wide targets to cut construction fatalities and major injuries by 10 per cent year-on-year up to 2012. However, it backed the Work and Pensions Committee’s conclusion that more inspections were needed to improve health and safety compliance on building sites, especially given the recent 28 per cent rise in construction-related deaths in 2006/07. It described it as “illogical to argue that the number of inspections has no effect on health and safety standards”.

Recognising that the refurbishment sector had the worst record in terms of fatalities, the Committee warned that “only radical steps to address the size of the informal economy are likely to improve the sector’s health and safety record”. It suggested the Treasury could conduct an analysis of the consequences of cutting VAT on all repair and maintenance work, so as to remove the competitive advantage of those who avoid registration for VAT.

The MPs also stressed the importance of creating a culture of health and safety in reducing the number of deaths and injuries, and called on the Government, in its role as client, to up its game, particularly by ensuring that contractors bidding for public-sector projects are assessed on health and safety. The MPs urged the government to use the Construction, Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2007 and the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007 to “enforce a change of approach in public-sector construction procurement, and to drive culture change across the sector”.

The report, Construction matters, is at the link below.

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