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'Inadequate' HSC safety targets under fire

THE HEALTH & Safety Commission (HSC) has failed to set tough enough targets for reducing accidents in the construction industry, industrialists warned this week.

The warning came during a conference staged by the HSC to discuss ways of cutting work related deaths and injuries by 10% over the next 10 years.

Over 300 delegates from government, industry, unions and the public were invited to question the HSC's proposals for its strategic plan, due to be published in April.

Delegates from all industries included representatives from the Institution of Civil Engineers, the nuclear industry, Railtrack and the Construction Industry Training Board.

Some raised doubts about the suitability of the across the board targets. One delegate questioned how smaller and safer industries could make the same improvements as the relatively dangerous sectors like construction.

HSC chairman Bill Callaghan told delegates that to achieve targets, his organisation needed to focus on key priorities and appealed for help in identifying these.

Revitalising Health and Safety, a document published jointly by the HSC and the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions, set across the board targets for improvements for the first time last June.

These include cutting fatal and major injuries by 10% by 2010, and a reduction in the number of working days lost per 100,000 workers from work related injury by 30%. By 2004, HSC expects these figures to be 50% achieved.

Many delegates said that aiming for a 5% cut in construction related deaths and major injuries was too small. Latest Health & Safety Executive figures show that construction deaths in the six months to September 2000 had risen 60% to 62.

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