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December 5, 2008

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Inquiry into construction industry fatalities begins

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has appointed former TUC president, Rita Donaghy, to chair an inquiry into deaths in the construction industry.

The inquiry was announced in September by Secretary of State James Purnell (see our earlier story) and the DWP has now confirmed that it will begin immediately, following Donaghy’s appointment.

The inquiry will be carried out in three stages, beginning with a review of existing cases, to give the inquiry a greater understanding of the risks that can lead to fatal injuries. The team will then analyse the underlying causes of these incidents, before reporting its findings to ministers and the HSE’s board in the spring.

Purnell said: “The high number of fatalities in the construction sector continue to be of particular concern to us, which is why I have asked Rita Donaghy to chair an inquiry looking at the underlying causes of construction fatal incidents to see what more can be done to reduce this terrible toll.”

Safety pressure group the Construction Safety Campaign believes that the inquiry will go a long way towards reducing fatal accidents in the sector. The group’s secretary, Tony O’Brien, told SHP: “The inquiry is completely justified, as deaths and serious injuries in the construction industry are still at an unacceptably high level. Providing the inquiry is far-reaching, and takes on board the concerns of safety campaign groups and unions, then it should be a useful exercise.”

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