Accident comes as HSE data reveals first increase in on-site deaths in four years

The Metropolitan Police has said that the death of a crane worker on the Olympic site was, according to a post-mortem, the result of “natural causes”.

The death on Tuesday was the first on the Olympic project. There are reports that the worker, from Laing O’Rourke’s Select Plant Hire, may have suffered
a heart attack.

The death occurred in the same week official figures showed the first rise in construction deaths in four years.

The provisional data released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) showed the number of workers killed on construction sites increased last year for the first time in four years. There were 50 workers killed in construction for the year April 2010 to March 2011 - compared with 41 deaths the previous year.

It comes after a big rise in multiple fatalities from structural collapses of temporary works, including four fatalities in Great Yarmouth, two in Leicester and two in Ipswich.

The HSE’s chief construction adviser Philip White, said this was of particular concern. “While falls from height accounts for nearly half of all deaths, an increase in deaths from structural collapses is worrying as they are easily preventable,” he said.

“A small bit of planning and safety would go a long way to ensuring such incidents are kept to a minimum,” he said.

However, White said the rise did not mean the HSE needed a new approach to tackling health and safety on construction sites.

Union Ucatt has called on the government to rethink its plans to cut the funding of the HSE.

George Guy, acting general secretary of Ucatt, said: “These figures must serve as an urgent wake up call for the government”.