Why are Construction Accident Figures so High?

Daniel Piff
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) latest worker accident and fatality statistics show that construction remains a high risk industry, despite downward movements in injury and illness numbers.

In 2010-11 there were 50 fatal injuries to construction workers, from a total workplace fatality figure of 171. Eighteen of the 50 construction fatalities were to the self-employed.

New estimates show that workplace injuries and ill health (excluding occupational cancers) cost Britain some £14 billion in 2009-10. This figure has fallen in the last three years, reflecting the downward movements in injury and illness numbers. Nevertheless the construction industry still has highest number of workplace fatalities.

So why are the construction accident figures so high?

  • employers may not know the duties placed upon them by legislation
  • employers may be aware of their duties but choose to cut corners to save time, money or effort in the short term
  • health and safety may be seen as a cost rather than a benefit
  • human error

Too much red tape?

Health and safety legislation is frequently criticised as burdensome and over-regulated, with scope for confusion and too much red tape. In response, the government instructed a full review in March 2011, resulting in the publication of the Löfstedt Report (PDF, 780kb).

The report focuses on the need to streamline the legislation. It recommends eliminating unnecessary Acts of Parliament, which are covered by more significant legislation, are out of date or disproportionate to the proposed risks. The HSE welcomed the report and committed to instigating the changes pertinent to its responsibilities.

The Faithful+Gould health and safety team also welcomes the report and the deadlines it imposes for change. Our observation is that key duty holders clearly show the drive and commitment to improve the statistics. However there is a need for competent professional health and safety management to be instilled within organisations. No one is exempt from the requirements and responsibilities cannot be passed on to someone else!

We offer a wide range of health and safety services to the construction industry. Our expertise in construction health and safety enables us to manage our clients’ interests, keeping their health and safety responsibilities on track.