HSE figures show less than half of fatal accidents in building industry lead to a prosecution

Tim Lezard

construction oldham building-site_croppedUCATT is calling for urgent action to ensure that companies responsible for the deaths of construction workers are brought to justice.

It follows a recent Freedom of Information Request to the Health and Safety Executive revealed that of the 332 fatal accidents involving construction workers between 2004/5 and 2008/9 just 154 (46%) led to a prosecution.

UCATT general secretary Steve Murphy said: “These are truly shocking figures.

“It is bad enough that families have lost a loved one but the fact in the majority of cases no prosecution has ever been brought is shameful.”

Official figures for prosecutions for more recent deaths at work are not available because officials say it usually takes between three and four years between the death of a worker and a case coming to court.

Campaigners say most workplace deaths in the building industry are entirely preventable.

However, the HSE is facing budget cuts of up to 35% by 2015 and Coalition ministers are planning to erode existing safety regulations because they say they are a ‘burden to business’.

Research by the HSE has found that in 70% of cases, management failures caused or contributed to the death.

Says Steve Murphy: “We were already aware that it was a case of justice delayed – we can now see in the majority of cases it is in fact justice denied.

“Families who have lost a loved one deserve answers about why there are so few prosecutions.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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