Magazine article Public Finance

Building Deaths Rise as HSE Cuts Back

Magazine article Public Finance

Building Deaths Rise as HSE Cuts Back

Article excerpt

Swingeing job cuts at the Health and Safety Executive could be linked to rising numbers of deaths on UK building sites, the agency has admitted.

Provisional figures have revealed that 74 people have died on building sites in 2006/07 -an increase of around 14% on 2005/06. Hundreds more construction staff have been badly injured. If the HSE, which inspects sites, confirms the figures this summer - it discounts deaths among members of the public - it would be the first increase in construction fatalities since 2003/04.

An HSE spokesman this week told Public Finance that the potential increase might have been influenced by the government's wideranging efficiency drive, which has forced job cuts and a reduced inspection regime on to the agency in recent years, leaving sites exposed to potentially poor safety regimes.

The spokesman said: 'The formal figures for 2006/07 will be released this summer, but it is possible... that there will be a small rise.

'While it is very difficult to tell at this stage, we can't reject outright the claim that this may have something to do with job losses among HSE staff. We said last year we would do everything possible to minimise the impact, but we have to accept that there may be some issues around these [cuts]. …

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