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June 20, 2024

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election 2024

Associations call for safety focus ahead of election

The Association for Project Safety (APS) and British Safety Council (BSC) have called for a focus on safety priorities for next government.

The APS  launched a Micro Manifesto ahead of the UK General Election, aiming to raise more awareness on issues within the built environment and advocating for change in the construction industry’s safety relationship with government.

“Opportunity missed”

Meanwhile, Peter McGettrick, BSC’s Chairman, commented on the UK General Election manifestos published this week saying: “The lack of focus given to people’s health, safety, and wellbeing in the main manifestos for this General Election is disappointing, especially given the challenges facing both the country and people in work. This was an opportunity missed by all parties to set out a positive vision for a safer, healthier future, where people’s wellbeing is at the heart of economic growth.

“Instead, the main party manifestos are largely silent on health, safety or wellbeing at work. And, while they do include some policies to tackle poor mental health, they fail to deliver solutions to the issues affecting workers’ health, safety, and overall wellbeing.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with whoever forms the next Government to help put workers’ health, safety, and wellbeing front and centre over the course of the next Parliament.”

Andrew Leslie, CEO of Association for Project Safety

APS also looks to build on a partnership with the next government to help empower the built environment to play a fuller role in tackling challenges, particularly around in areas around building safety and mitigating risk within the building and construction industry.

APS’s ‘key asks’, they said, is not “especially new nor innovative”, but seen as a primary message for the 650 new Westminster parliamentarians to be elected on 4 July.

Andrew Leslie, CEO of APS identified the ‘Five Asks’ which are:

  1. Training and skills development

Issue: There is a significant shortage of skilled workers to meet the housing targets set in all the main party manifestoes, but especially in the Tory or Labour ones, both now launched. For more information click here.

Solution: Invest in comprehensive training programmes, and real, meaningful apprenticeships to build a skilled workforce capable of safely constructing the planned

1.5+ million homes likely to be needed over the next five years.

APS Ask: Immediate allocation of funds and resources to training centres, and educational institutions – with enforceable output targets.

  1. Planned and selective immigration (short-term)

Issue: Our members tell us that the current domestic workforce is insufficient to meet critical housing targets in the short term.

Solution: Implement a planned and selective immigration policy to attract skilled workers from abroad similar to the Australian model. This would be a short-term tactic for five years.

APS Ask: Fast-track visa processes for skilled immigrants with proven experience and identifiable, ‘provable’ skills in the construction sector.

  1. Long-term construction workforce development

Issue: Many UK college/university training programmes are simply insufficient to meet the demand for skilled workers.

Solution: Enhance and expand apprenticeship programmes to ensure a steady pipeline of skilled workers for future projects.

APS Ask: Partner with industry leaders and educational institutions to design and implement effective programmes relevant to modern methods of construction and developing technologies.

  1. Environmental protection in planning

Issue: Proposed fast-track planning on brownfield sites and abandonment of nutrient neutrality pose environmental risks.

Solution: Ensure all planning and construction projects adhere to strict environmental protection standards to prevent uncontrolled pollutants in sensitive environments.

APS Ask: Implement rigorous environmental impact assessments for all new construction projects. Some pioneering local authorities are showing this can be done; think how much more with government backing.

  1. Retrofitting existing buildings

Issue: The focus on new builds overlooks the potential of retrofitting existing structures to meet modern housing needs and environmental goals.

Solution: Develop a robust and realistic retrofit programme to improve existing buildings’ energy efficiency and safety

APS Ask: Allocate funding and incentivise homeowners and businesses to retrofit their properties.

The Association added that it “urges the next UK Government to prioritise the development of a skilled workforce through improved domestic training programmes and selective immigration (visa) incentives”.

The British Safety Council’s manifesto can be found here.

Further reading: What did the 2019-2024 Parliament mean for workers’ health, safety, and wellbeing?

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