Labour Research November 2012


Union decries increase in fatalities

Figures obtained by construction union UCATT show that there was a large increase in construction fatalities involving self-employed workers last year.

In total there were 49 construction deaths in 2011-12. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recorded that 22 involved self-employed workers, 45% of all construction fatalities.

A year earlier, 36% of construction deaths involved self-employed workers.

In the last seven years, the previous highest number of construction deaths involving this group was in 2008-09 when 38% of fatalities were self-employed workers.

UCATT general secretary Steve Murphy described the rise as “very worrying”.

He said: “Self-employed workers frequently work on sites where safety levels are lower and are therefore more vulnerable to suffering an accident or injury.”

While the number of self-employed workers being killed has increased, UCATT believes that the figure could still be an underestimate.

This is because the HSE on occasion records false self-employed workers as employees in order to improve the likelihood of making a successful prosecution following the death of a worker.

The rise in deaths of self-employed construction workers comes at a particularly sensitive time. The HSE, at the government’s direction, is currently consulting on removing some self-employed workers from health and safety legislation.

While these proposals do not currently include construction, the union is concerned that the policy will be extended in the future as part of the government’s desire to cut “red tape”.