Brumwell calls for speedy introduction of tough corporate manslaughter bill to punish culpable employers.
UCATT general secretary George Brumwell has criticised the industry's safety record after the Health and Safety Executive disclosed that 26 construction-related deaths occurred between April and June this year.

This represents a 44% increase on the same three months in 2001; then, the toll for the whole year reached 105 and led deputy prime minister John Prescott to call an emergency summit on safety.

Brumwell said that when the HSE releases the full figures for the year 2002–03 the industry would have a "nasty shock".

He said: "The figure is truly horrific. If things go on this way we will have a record number of deaths this year. The construction industry is supposed to be bringing down the number of deaths and injuries through new initiatives, but clearly something is going badly wrong."

Brumwell said he said he was not surprised by the latest figures, as UCATT's regional offices had told him that contractors were cutting corners to boost profit.

He said: "I am sick to the back teeth of hearing the employers' representatives complaining about bureaucracy and health and safety rules being biased towards unions, when what they should be doing is making sure their members are doing everything possible to prevent this carnage."

Brumwell met the newly appointed construction minister, Nigel Griffiths, this week to discuss safety. Brumwell said: "I met the minister and set out the whole safety agenda to him and I was pleased with his response; he was extremely enthusiastic and prepared to listen."

Brumwell called for the speedy introduction of a corporate manslaughter law. The government has sponsored a bill which, when it becomes law, will permit charges to be brought against named individuals if their negligence is deemed to have led to a fatality.

Brumwell said: "The government has promised us a law that will fine companies that are negligent, but this does not go far enough." He said that there had been too much posturing on the issue.

The breakdown of the 26 deaths is as follows: 12 fatalities were from falls, four were caused by a moving vehicle, four occurred after people were trapped by something collapsing or overturning and six were from other causes.