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concrete

5

It’s hardly themost riveting of subjects – and the onemost likely to induce

stifled yawns and eyes rolling to the heavens – but the still-growing culture of

health and safety inUK construction is one that is perhaps underestimated and

certainly undervalued.

One is toomany

FROM THE EDITOR

EDITOR:

James Luckey

Tel: +44 (0)1276 607158

j.luckey@concrete.org.uk

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concrete

is published 10 times a year (2017)

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© The Concrete Society, 2017

ISSN 0010-5317

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T

he fact that H&S has now evolved

to become engrained in all stages

of project planning can only be

good. Yes, legislation such as the

CDMRegulations helps clarify disparate

Acts but the drip-drip change in attitudes

over the years is of equal importance. Once

vilified as excessive red tape, the obligations

to ensure safer sites are accepted and, indeed,

welcomed.

According to the Health and Safety

Executive (HSE), there were 43 fatalities in

construction in 2015–2016, with a rate of

1.94 per 100,000 operatives. Unsurprisingly,

fall from height was still the highest cause of

death. As Martin Temple, chair of HSE, has

said,“One death at work or life needlessly

shortened is one too many.”

Considering that for the UK workplace as

a whole the overall rate of fatal injuries is 0.51

per 100,000 workers, then there is still much

to do for construction to reduce its fatality

rate – which runs nearly four times higher

than the national average.And this is without

considering figures for serious injury.

Headlines

One does not need to look very far among

recent headlines to read of horror stories

on-site; incidents from falls to being crushed

are reported almost weekly.

But on a positive note, the UK can

claim that its adherence to H&S makes

it one of the safest places in the world in

which to work. The EU rate of fatalities

is considerably higher at 1.19 and even the

large economies of Germany, Italy, Spain and

France have worse records than the UK.

Maybe we should be surprised at this,

especially regarding Germany where it could

be expected that renowned engineering

excellence would go hand in hand with strict

adherence to health and safety.

The Editor recalls visiting a student

accommodation site in southern Germany

where access was gained through opening a

gap in the security fence, no PPE demands

were in place (bar a hard hat) and one

member of the visiting group was allowed in

wearing flip flops! So perhaps the expectation

is misplaced.

Anyone visiting the continent on business

can testify that for construction sites, edge

protection, hard hats, high-vis and gloves are,

more often than not, completely absent.

This is not to suggest, however, that UK

complacency and resting on our laurels is an

acceptable approach.

Concrete

has had to turn

down many photos in the past because they

highlight basic lapses in site H&S, such as

missing PPE or incorrect and unsafe use of

equipment and concrete as a material.

But for something that people have

moaned at for years,H&S has become

an accepted part of business practice and

ultimately saves time,money and lives. All

effort made to improve health and safety and

prevent incidents that cost lives or prevent

serious injury is time well spent.

Enjoy the issue!

James Luckey, Editor

Tel: 01276 607158

editorial@concrete.org.uk