Courses set up as it is revealed that all migrants who died last year were Polish

The Federation of Poles will launch a course in the autumn to help Polish workers obtain CSCS cards, as fears grow over the safety of the eastern European workforce on British sites.

The London-based federation is working with the British Safety Council to set up classes to help Polish workers gain English language skills, a principal factor in the workers’ susceptibility to site accidents.

This urgent need for the courses was underlined this week when the Health & Safety Commission revealed that all five immigrants who died in construction last year were Poles.

Jan Mokrzycki, the chairman of the Federation of Poles, warned that there have been problems setting up the course: “It is slightly frustrating. The problem is finding people to do the lectures. But we are hoping to set it up some time in the autumn.”

The issue of migrant labour from Bulgaria and Romania, which may join the European Union next year, has become politically charged.

Alistair Darling, the trade and industry secretary, said earlier this week that workers from the two states will face restrictions on coming to the UK. Poles and other eastern Europeans, such as Latvians and Slovakians, have had full rights to work in the UK since 2004.

Government statistics released this week show almost 450,000 workers from the eastern European countries that joined the EU in May 2002 had registered in the UK. Of that figure, 10,535 were working in construction; 2355 were carpenters and joiners.

The Health & Safety Commission’s 2005 statistics show that deaths in the construction industry have fallen to a record low of 59, down from 69 in 2004.