The Health and Safety Executive will not renew the contracts of the 24 temporary construction safety inspectors it recruited last year when their employment ends next June
The move, which follows the 35% cut in the HSE budget announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review last month, was described as a “major blow for construction safety” by construction union Ucatt.
The HSE, which has 149 permanent frontline construction safety inspectors, appointed the extra staff as part of a focus on the small- and medium-sized sector when Philip White became head of the body’s construction division last summer.
Alan Ritchie, general secretary of Ucatt, said the extra inspectors have helped to reduce fatalities and accidents at work.
Their departure greatly increases the challenge of keeping workers safe
Alan ritchie, ucatt
“Their departure, at a time when the industry is recovering and work levels are rising, greatly increases the challenge of keeping workers safe, especially as there will be greatly increased numbers of new entrants joining the industry,” he said.
The number of construction workers killed fell to 42 in the year ended 31 March 2010, HSE figures revealed last month, but the sector still accounts for more deaths than any other industry and Ritchie warned that much more needed to be done.
“Even with the temporary inspectors, the level of inspections, enforcement activity, prohibition notices and prosecutions are in decline,” he said. “Far from being too much health and safety activity, the reality is that there is not nearly enough.”
In a statement, the HSE said: “In June 2009, we recruited 24 temporary construction inspectors on two-year contracts and, after natural wastage, 17 currently remain with HSE. As planned, these contracts will come to an end in June 2011.”