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Blame duck

Letters

As engineers we must remember that HSE's definition of Designer is very wide. My own assessment of fatal accidents over recent years does not lead me to believe that we should be taking all the blame. In fact, given the number of construction projects that are completed without accident or injury, it must be the case that Engineers are overwhelmingly producing designs that can be built safely. ;

Also, we should not overlook the lack of understanding that I believe exists in many quarters including HSE about the way the construction industry works these days. For example, the CDM Regulations also require Clients to provide adequate resources but more resources in design = more time = more fees. I've not seen fees increase in real terms since 1994, rather the opposite but I have not heard of HSE prosecuting a Client for paying fees that are too low. An under resourced and fragmented industry still has more to do with the incidence of accident and ill-health than poor design in my view.

I also expect that those who are not Engineers don't really understand the essential need for statistics to produce reliable codes of practice for design.

Vast quantities of research lie behind the codes of practice that enable us to design reinforced concrete structures that perform consistently safely. The production of codes to allow designers to achieve a similar consistency for safe construction will require a similar statistical base, not another working party.

How would this work for safety in the construction process? We can easily design a steel or reinforced concrete structure that is safe in use but which is statistically safer to build? If we knew which material was the 'safer' we could always adopt that form and it follows, statistically, that there would be reduced deaths, injury and illness as a result.

Are HSE prepared to give us those figures?

Alan Pemberton Alan. pemberton@clancy. co. u k

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