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Watts Bulletin (Issue 132)

Welcome to the first Watts Bulletin of 2012 and a happy new year to all our subscribers. The next 12 months promise to be eventful, both in terms of legislation and new initiatives coming on line.

In this issue we report on the latest HSE figures, showing that deaths in the construction industry are higher than any other sector and are increasing year-on-year. A new safety campaign this spring will target small sites which, according to the HSE, have the worst safety record. In light of these figures, the government’s plan to scrap the tower cranes register looks ill-advised. With eight fatalities caused by crane collapses in recent years, other aspects of red tape should perhaps be scrutinised before legitimate attempts to improve safety are targeted.

This month we also look at the Dilapidations Protocol which comes into force in April, at a new form of lease launched by the RICS and at the JCT consultation into sustainable construction.

Watts Bulletin (Issue 132)

Rise in fatalities sparks new HSE campaign

UK construction continues to see more deaths than other industries with the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) 2010-11 statistics confirming that 50 workers were killed during the year to March 2011 – the highest number of deaths of any UK sector. This represents an increase on 2009/2010, when 41 construction employees died.

HSE Main Jan 2012

This is the first reported increase in the number of deaths for four years. In 2007, 79 workers were reported to have been killed on construction sites across the country. During 2010/2011, construction deaths accounted for 29% of all workplace fatalities. As well as an increase in deaths at work, the rate of fatal injuries also rose to 2.4 per 100,000 workers compared with 1.9 per 100,000 workers in 2009/10.

The HSE figures reveal that the most common fatal accidents (26%) resulted from a collapse of some kind or by falling from a height. Being hit by a moving vehicle accounted for 16% of fatalities and being hit by a moving or falling object accounted for 12% of deaths in the industry.

According to a recent report in Building magazine, around 70% of the recorded fatalities happened on small sites, with half the deaths taking place on refurbishment projects. Philip White, HSE’s chief construction inspector told Building that while the big construction companies had shown steady improvements in health and safety over the last decade, smaller firms needed to catch up.

In response to the latest figures, the HSE is now planning to “refocus its efforts” on helping small construction firms to give a higher priority to health and safety issues. A new campaign in February and March will target small schemes with unannounced site inspections planned.

For more information, contact John Wrightson, Associate at Watts Group PLC, on 0117 927 5800 or go to

Do you think more should be done to improve the safety of construction workers? Let us know your views on Watts’ Twitter page @Watts_int or join the Watts Bulletin group on LinkedIn.

The Watts Bulletin is the technical companion to the Watts Pocket Handbook, the essential guide to property and construction, as used by professionals since 1983.

Watts Bulletin editor: Trevor Rushton.