I feel that the Health and Safety Executive's latest statistics (16 April, page 14), which show that the number of site fatalities is decreasing slightly, needs to be put into context.
According to the HSE, in 1997/98, 4406 people were killed or injured, of whom 488 were self-employed. In 2002/03 this rose to 4851, of whom 696 were self-employed. This is an increase of 6% in the employed sector but a massive rise of 42% among the self-employed.

I don't see any evidence of the culture change that is required to make a real difference. CSCS cards can be obtained by passing a simple touch-screen test; they do not mean that the holder has had any effective safety training.

I see a twofold problem. First, whereas employed people usually have a training structure in place for them, the self-employed do not have the time (or motivation) to attend courses. Second, the shortage of skills in the industry means that if a candidate says they have had health and safety training, they are likely to be hired without too many questions being asked.

With the continuing rise in death and injury, particularly to the self-employed, something radical and innovative needs to be done.