SAFETY AWARENESS days and site blitzes by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) are boosting designers' focus on safety, chief inspector of construction Kevin Myers assured MPs this week.
Research carried out in the north of England and Scotland and due to be published next week had, he said, shown a doubling in awareness among designers of their legal and professional responsibilities to design out hazards since last year.
It shows that 60% of designers now have good or adequate knowledge of their legal requirements compared to just 33% last year.
Similarly, 62% of designers now have good or adequate knowledge of the practical steps available to them to reduce risks on site compared with just 34% last year.
But Myers conceded that the HSE still 'certainly had a great deal of work to do' in helping designers to raise their performance.
'We have not been as successful at getting the message across to designers, ' he said.
Myers' comments came in response to questions from the Public Accounts Committee as part of their examination of the National Audit Office's recent report on the HSE's performance in construction.
'To read that 60% of accidents are caused by problems in design is staggering, ' said Gerry Steinberg, MP for the City of Durham, suggesting that the HSE must therefore be failing in its duties.
Myers defended the HSE's current policy of educating, advising and enforcing in the industry. Referring to the HSE's role in delivering safer design in the industry, Myers said: 'Our job is to make sure that it gets done, not to second guess the designers.'