UCATT says recommending rather than insisting on wearing hard helmets will allow employers off the hook

Tim Lezard

hard hatThe Health and Safety Executive has scrapped laws protecting construction workers, allowing employers to recommend rather than insist their workers wear hard heats.

The decision has been condemned by UCATT, which says since the mandatory wearing of safety equipment was introduced, the average number of construction workers dying as a result of a head injury has fallen from 48 a year to 14 a year.

UCATT general secretary Steve Murphy said: “Construction workers are being placed in danger by the scrapping of these regulations. Many construction companies will use the scrapping of the regulations as an excuse not to provide life-saving protective equipment.”

The head protection regulations were scrapped on Saturday as a result of the Lofstedt Review. UCATT warned that construction was a non-compliant industry and that extra measures were needed to ensure that the scrapping of the regulations would not result in construction workers being placed in danger.

Professor Lofstedt seemed to accept this, saying: “HSE is planning to mitigate any such risk by targeting publicity at smaller companies that head protection must still be provided and worn.”

But the union says the HSE has ignored his recommendations, with the report saying: “HSE is seeking support from industry to deliver the message about the continuing need to provide hard hats on construction sites and ensure they are worn. CONIAC (the construction industry advisory group) are asked to consider what help they can provide in publicising the messages about the continuing need to provide head protection and ensure it is worn on construction sites”.

Steve Murphy said: “It is highly distressing that the HSE is failing to take proactive measures to ensure that workers are not placed in danger. Hoping that the construction industry will send out a message is a complete abdication of the HSE’s responsibilities.

“Workers who are being placed in danger need to be told whether this is a result of HSE policy, as a result of a lack of resources or because of government intervention.”

 


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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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