Employers under increased pressure as unions renew call for roving safety representatives to vet sites.
FIVE MORE workers have died on site in the past nine days as the construction safety crisis worsens.

The toll includes one man who fell from a crane on a Mowlem site in Sheffield and a carpenter who fell to his death while working on a Sir Robert McAlpine site in the City of London. Other workers died in Leicester, Dundee and Birmingham.

Figures released by the Health and Safety Executive last month show a 59% increase in deaths in the industry in the six months to September.

The industry reacted with shock to the latest news. Bob Blackman, construction secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, described the toll as dreadful, while a Construction Confederation spokesperson said: "All deaths are regrettable. We have to ensure that we don't have any more weeks like this one."

He added that the confederation did not believe any immediate action should be taken. He said: "There is no quick fix. If it could be done, it would be done."

Blackman reiterated his call for roving safety reps and called for the HSE to take a more interventionist role on building sites.

He said: "The HSE needs to get all its inspectors on to the front line to police sites. They need to have a much greater profile. And instead of talking about pilots for roving reps, let's start implementing them now."

An HSE spokesperson said no more inspectors could be provided because of a lack of resources. He said: "It would be wonderful to have more, but that's not realistic. I don't think we could physically do any more. We are recruiting but we are not talking about hundreds of new inspectors going into construction. The problem lies within the companies. It is about the industry's culture."

In the Sheffield incident on Tuesday, a worker fell from a crane during work at the Sheffield United football ground, where Mowlem is refurbishing one of the stands. On Monday, at 280 Bishopsgate in the City, a carpenter fell to his death as he was working on the office development. In the Birmingham incident, a man working on the Bull Ring scheme was crushed. Sir Robert McAlpine was main contractor on both the London and Birmingham projects.

Union officials are set to meet DETR officials on 14 December to lay out their proposals for next February's safety summit. An action plan that will be presented by the T&G calls for co-operation between trade unions and employers over training for on-site reps, an industry-set target for reducing accidents and greater leadership by the Construction Industry Advisory Committee.

The Major Contractors Group has also put forward an action plan for the summit. It proposes mandatory safety criteria for MCG members and clear standards for site induction

How five construction workers died on site

27 November
A 61-year-old man is crushed by a collapsing wall while working on the Bull Ring shopping centre scheme in Birmingham. 28 November
A 16-year-old worker is crushed under a falling steel column at a warehouse development in Leicester. 30 November
A 45-year-old lorry driver, Alan Renfrey, is crushed in his cab when it overturns while delivering granite to a Dundee housing scheme. 4 December
A 34-year-old carpenter, Vincent Dooley, of Old Street, dies after falling 3m while working on an office in Bishopsgate, City of London. 5 December
A 42-year-old worker from Newark dies after falling about 9m from a cherry-picker working at Sheffield United’s football ground.