I believe the construction industry is destined to fail in its quest to improve safety unless it begins to place a higher value on human relationships and interaction.
It is no good, in our highly variable industry, to have the teams in the field being led by rule of fist. This only creates parent–child relationships in which people never really learn to act under their own initiative but instead will always, when the opportunity arises, revert to their old practices.

What we have to do is teach people that some subjective risks are so dependant on a person's attitude and approach to a situation that only they themselves can ensure safety. This is where the value of long-term relationships, teaching, team building and sharing rewards will pay off.

When accidents happen and the Health and Safety Executive assesses the situation, how often do we know:

  • What the team ethos was like?

  • How much time had been invested in people?

  • The overall project programme/cost constraints and their related pressures?

It would be interesting to see if any consistent themes came to light. This might reinforce the idea that more often than not accidents are caused by projects failing to breed the right culture and values.