Shadow construction minister says PM should look at reducing fatalities and injuries

Prime minister David Cameron’s assault on health and safety was ridiculed by the shadow construction minister this week who accused him of “peddling myths” on the subject.

Speaking last week, Cameron pledged to stimulate the economy and relieve businesses by tackling what he called the “health and safety monster”.

The government has already announced that self-employed people will be exempt from many health and safety regulations but is now examining further liberalisation.

“I don’t think there is any one single way you can cut back the health and safety monster,” Cameron said. “You have got to look at the quantity of rules, and we are cutting them back. You have got to look at the way they are enforced, and we are making sure that is more reasonable.”

However, figures from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) for the year 2010-11 reported in Building last week confirmed that construction continues to see more deaths than any other industrial sector in the UK with 50 last year, up from 41 in the same period the year before.

Labour MP for Hartlepool and shadow construction minister Iain Wright told Building the statistics showed the prime minister “clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

“He should concentrate less on peddling myths and look instead at the facts,” Wright said.

“Effective health and safety in the construction industry is not petty or a burden on business.  Sensible health and safety in construction keeps people safe, reduces staff absenteeism and helps improve productivity.

“It is a concern that […] 50 construction workers were killed in 2010/11.The prime minister needs to concentrate on reducing those fatalities and injuries.”
The HSE figures showed that last time there was an increase in fatalities was in 2007 when 79 workers were killed on sites. However, the sector has continued to reduce the number of injuries sustained by workers.