Sharp rise in UK construction fatalities

Brian Rye
Brian Rye

A total of 43 construction workers were killed in the workplace in the year to 31st March 2016, figures from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) have revealed.

Although the number was the same as the average for the previous five years, the HSE said it was 23 per cent up on the 35 construction fatalities in 2014/15.

More workers are killed in construction compared to any other industry in the UK. In agriculture there were 27 deaths last year (compared to the five-year average of 32); in manufacturing there were also 27 deaths (compared to five-year average 22).

HSE has also released the latest available figures on deaths from asbestos-related cancer. Mesothelioma, one of the few work related diseases where deaths can be counted directly, contracted through past exposure to asbestos killed 2,515 in Great Britain in 2014 compared to 2,556 in 2013.

Construction union UCATT have accused the HSE of burying bad news by releasing the annual fatality figures coinciding with the Chilcot Report.

Brian Rye, acting general secretary of UCATT, said: “This is clearly a case of burying bad news. At a time when we have huge amounts of political turmoil and the Chilcot Report finally being published, the HSE decided to publish the latest fatality figures. They have effectively brushed them under the carpet. They could and should have waited just a single day.”

Mr Rye added: “Each and every one of these fatalities is an individual tragedy and a family will have been left devastated by the loss of a loved one. If we are to improve safety in our industry we need to properly address the reasons why people continue to die. Hiding the figures will make the situation worse not better.”

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