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November 2, 2012

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London building deaths raise safety concerns

In the week in which the HSE released its annual injury and ill-health statistics, two fatal incidents on separate construction sites in London have again cast the spotlight on safety in the construction industry.

On Monday (29 October), carpenter Justinas Kopickas died at property developer St James’ Langham Square site in Upper Richmond Road, Putney. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the man was leaning against a metal barrier on the sixth floor of the development when he fell, colliding with two builders on the way.

Mr Kopickas was pronounced dead at the scene. One of the other builders was badly injured but not critically, while the other man escaped with minor injuries, according to a spokesperson from the Metropolitan Police. The HSE is now leading the investigation into how the incident happened.

In a separate incident on the same day, a man died after apparently being crushed at a demolition site on Tottenham High Road. The 25-year-old victim suffered multiple injuries and died in hospital two days later. The Police are still leading the investigation, although the HSE has begun initial inquiries. 

Tony O’Brien, national secretary of the Construction Safety Campaign, warned that the two incidents are a sign of more to come. Lambasting the Government for deregulating health and safety and dressing up cost-cutting measures as beneficial to society, O’Brien insisted: “We are going to see a reversal in the reduction in construction deaths over the next few years.”

The incidents occurred just days before the HSE issued its latest injury and ill-health statistics. The construction industry sector recorded 2230 major injuries in 2011/12, down from 2307 in 2010/11. The sector also accounted for 5391 over-three-day injuries, up from 4813 in 2010/11, but still down on the five-year average. All non-fatal injuries saw a 7-per-cent cent increase from 7120 in 2010/11 to 7621 in 2011/12.

In response to the figures, the HSE’s chief inspector of construction, Philip White, said: “Year after year, construction continues to be one of the most dangerous sectors in British industry. Though the numbers are down in the long term, thousands of workers are being seriously injured, or made unwell by their work.

“We all need to re-focus our efforts and take on the responsibility to ensure the serious risks that continue to cause death and serious injury are sensibly managed. Many of these incidents are entirely preventable.”

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11 years ago

How dare you cast doubt on the achievement of the Olympic safety performance, its worthy of a Gold Medal itself.

Its not thier fault that the rest of us play in the little league is it?

You must have noticed though, that they fail to mention the cost of the safety measures adopted. The resource schedule was worthy of Gold alone.

I don`t imagine our Client`s would be welcoming of such cost imposition?

We struggle at cost plus to win work.

11 years ago

Totally agree with you.

It goes to show that no matter how big the company is, that supervision of the work still goes to pot.

The BB formwork collapse and the Wates temporary works incident further illustrate that fact. Plenty of supposed robust procedures there, unfortunately not adopted though. And the chap killed at charing cross, another stake holder incident. The list goes on,

All have robust management procedures?

How many employ the same rssourse schedule as the Olympics?

11 years ago

So the Olympics have finished, its focus on Health and Safety produced an impressive safety culture and record. However without this focus it’s back to normal then!

It’s a pity the same emphasis cannot be placed on the normal day to day events. Unfortunately these types of incident will continue to occur, and possibly increase, if inspection and enforcement measures are reduced or curtailed.

Companies continue to place employees lives at risk in the hope they will save money.

11 years ago

Robust Health and safety management shouldn’t cost anything. Both of the above incidents sound like a lack of proper site management.