The Guardian recently published a letter from James Abbott, editor of Modern Railways, responding to an article on construction that it published on 30 June.
I quote: “Construction is ‘our most dangerous industry’? While there is everything to be said for enforcing building-site safety rules, the most dangerous occupation is actually deep-sea fishing, at more than 123 fatalities per 100,000 employee years in 2003. Construction, at 7.9 fatalities, comes some way down the list, after other occupations including railway track workers (31.8), lorry drivers (14.9) and farm workers (11.8).”
Clearly Abbott is using a different statistical method from that of counting annual deaths – besides which, railway track workers might be classed as construction workers, most goods arrive on site by lorry and Abbott fails to take into account the legacy of asbestos exposure.
I mention this because I do think we have to be careful about giving people a get-out clause on the validity of construction safety statistics. Occupational safety is too important to allow it to be undermined by over-simplified reporting.
Rosemary Slater, RIBA