When the annual number of site deaths passed 105 in the first year of the decade, there was a widespread sense that something had to be done
The story of safety is one of increasing awareness within the industry, and increasingly tough action from government. Deaths did fall to a record low of 60 in 2005/06, only to start rising again. The most recent year, 2008-09, set a record of 55 deaths, although this may reflect the fall in work.
Of course, the industry’s safety record really climbed up the news agenda when members of the public were the unfortunate victims. In June 2000 three crane workers died at Canary Wharf, and in Battersea 2007 two workers and a man washing his car were killed by a falling crane.
The dominant public concern, however, was rail safety. Four people died in the Hatfield train crash, which was caused by a cracked rail. Balfour Beatty, was fined £10m during a trial in 2005. Two of its senior managers were charged with manslaughter, but acquitted. Less than two years later, seven people were killed in a rail crash at Potters Bar when a faulty set of points derailed the London to King’s Lynn. Jarvis, the firm responsible for maintaining the track, initially claimed vandalism could have been to blame, but subsequent accident reports found no evidence to support the claim.
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Review of the Decade 2000-2009
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Health and safety