Report calls for full-time construction minister

The Building Regulations should cover health and safety, according to a report into construction deaths published today by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The inquiry report investigates the underlying causes of construction fatal accidents. It recommends that the Gangmaster Licensing Regulations be extended to cover construction.

The long-awaited 96-page report from Rita Donaghy, former head of Acas, suggests that directors should be legally obliged to ensure good health and safety management on sites.

The call for a full-time construction minister will be applauded by many in the industry. The report also called for a review of health and safety teaching, an examination of the impact of second-hand equipment in the sector and called for mandatory minimum standards on publicly-funded projects.

Commenting on the report, Yvette Cooper, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: “Despite the welcome recent fall in construction fatalities, any death or major injury is a tragedy for individuals, their families and their colleagues, and more work is needed to bring the number of accidents down.”

Rita Donaghy said: “The inquiry involved a widespread stakeholder consultation which generated a large amount of interest. I was eager to hear the views of as many people as possible and these are reflected in the report.

“I was keen to see what lessons we could learn from the root causes of construction accidents so that we can help to improve the health and safety of construction workers and I hope that Government and other stakeholders will welcome the recommendations.”

DWP will now be consulting with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the industry, trade unions and other relevant Government Departments, to fully consider all the recommendations before responding later in the year.

The latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) fatal injury statistics for 2008/9 show 53 fatal injuries to construction workers were recorded – a rate of 2.4 per 100,000 workers – a fall from the 72 recorded in 2007/08 and from the average number of fatalities (70) for the previous five years.