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Construction deaths down 28% in five years to 2014/15 as firms focus on high-risk work

Construction deaths down 28% in five years to 2014/15 as firms focus on high-risk work

5 November 2015 Email this article

The number of fatalities on construction sites fell by more than a quarter in the last five years, new figures from the Health and Safety Executive have revealed.

For the period 2010-15, a total of 217 construction workers lost their lives on site, a fall of 28.1 per cent compared with the 304 reported construction deaths in 2005-10.

The drop in the number of fatal incidents was revealed in the HSE’s annual safety in construction report. This also showed that 2014/15 had 20 per cent fewer fatalities than the five-year average since 2010.

In 2014/15, 35 people were killed in the construction sector, down from 44 in 2013/14 and less than half the number of deaths recorded 15 years ago.

Berkeley Group health & safety executive Barry Oliver said the reduction in workers’ deaths was a result of an increased focus by companies on procedures around high-risk activities.

Mr Oliver said: “What I have witnessed at Berkeley and on a wider industry level is clients and contractors focusing in a much more proportionate way on risk.

“If you go back a few years, we used to look at health and safety as a myriad of things we had to manage. Whether it was working at height or cable management in the corridor, everything got the same attention.

“Now companies put much more effort into focusing on the high-risk areas and this must have had an impact.”

Of the 217 construction workers to have died on site between 2010 and 2015, 97 were as a result of falls from height. The second most common cause of death was ‘being trapped by something collapsing’, which resulted in 28 fatalities, while 21 workers were killed after being struck by a moving vehicle. Despite the drop in the number of deaths on site, construction remains one of the most dangerous sectors for workers. Keltbray Group HSQE director Simon Hulme said, while the figures were positive, there was still work to be done.

He added: “If we are to truly remove safety risks which lead to accidents and incidents across all sectors we need now to continue to improve our position on health and in doing so address the behavioural aspects of employment – only then can we eradicate injury in the workplace.”

The proportion of fatalities among construction employees stands at nearly two per 100,000 workers – almost three-and-a-half times higher than the average rate across all other industries. The industry’s improved record on fatalities was matched by a downward trend in the rate of workplace injuries over the past decade.

In 2004/05 the rate of self-reported workplace injury in construction was just over 4,000 per 100,000 workers, but that figure had shrunk to just over 3,000 in the most recent figures for 2014/15.

In total, 69,000 workers – or 3 per cent of the workforce – suffered from an illness they believed to be work-related, with a further 65,000 workers reporting a non-fatal workplace injury. Combined, this resulted in a total of 1.2m working days being lost as a result of work-related ill health and a further 500,000 days being lost to work-related injuries.

Of the work-related illnesses, 64 per cent came from musculoskeletal disorders, with one in five illnesses being attached to stress, depression or anxiety.

The biggest causes of work-related injuries were slips, trips and falls at 23 per cent, with 22 per cent of all work-related injuries coming from lifting and handling.