The insurance industry has warned the government that it must be prepared to take tough action against companies which flout health and safety rules, if it is to slash the number of deaths at construction sites.

Government officials, the construction industry and trade union representatives met this week to hammer out a plan to reduce the rising death toll.

Last week Peter Hain, the work and pensions secretary, called for action to reduce fatalities among construction workers.

Speaking at the TUC conference Hain said: “This will not be a talking shop. It must deliver an urgent action plan to reverse the macabre toll of rising death and injury in construction.”

From 2006 to 2007 there were 77 construction-related fatalities in the UK –19% of those were due to falling from heights.

Insurers said they had been calling for action to be taken for a long time.

They warned that previous strategies had proved unsuccessful and said the government must be prepared to take a tough stance against poorly-performing companies.

Royal & SunAlliance construction director Colin Hamling said despite risk management, previous initiatives from insurers and companies had significant shortfalls in translating safety messages to individual sites.

He said the government needed to conduct more regular safety inspections and companies must adopt an uncompromising attitude towards employees who did not abide by the rules.

HSE calls in Allianz to check on tower crane safety

Allianz Engineering has been contracted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to conduct a series of inspections on how tower cranes are set up at construction sites.
Regulations have traditionally allowed construction companies to conduct individual safety inspections when a crane is first erected.
Allianz chief engineer Phil Wright said the HSE had concerns that those who inspected themselves might not conduct the rigorous tests needed and, as such, had invited Allianz to run parallel examinations.
Allianz Engineering was given contracts to inspect seven construction sites. The insurer’s reports will be compared with those of the various construction companies.