Workplace Report June 2007

Features: Health & safety - HSE monitor

UCATT wants increase in inspections all year round

More inspections of construction sites are welcome, but firms need to held to account all year round, UCATT construction union has argued.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said it will inspect around 1,000 construction sites during June and July, in a bid to reduce the number of deaths caused by falling from height during the period when they are most common.

But UCATT general secretary Alan Ritchie warned that "one-off, on-the-spot inspections are not going to massively reduce the appalling loss of life, which happens on an almost daily basis in construction".

A similar HSE initiative last year involved nearly 1,400 site visits - so, with the construction industry currently undergoing a boom, this latest initiative will mean fewer visits per employer.

Last year, 78 people were killed on construction sites - a 25% increase on the previous year's figures. Yet a recent study carried out for UCATT by the Centre for Corporate Accountability found that the likelihood of construction companies being convicted if one of their workers is killed has decreased by 75%. And even when a successful prosecution takes place, the company involved is often fined just a few thousand pounds.