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Industry failing on safety as deaths rise

CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT rates are failing to meet targets set by Sir John Egan's Construction Task Force, the Health & Safety Executive said this week.

Its latest accident figures highlight that in 1999/2000, the number of fatalities rose to 4.5 per 100,000 workers, up from 3.8 the year before.

This equals 1998 levels when Egan's report branded the industry as 'underachieving'.

Two years ago Egan demanded that the industry cut accidents by 20% each year until 2003. But this week chief inspector of construction Keith Myers agreed that the industry had consistently fallen short of these targets.

'The rise in deaths is of particular concern at a time of increasing activity in the construction industry, ' he said.

However, he stressed that 'the ball is in the industry's court, ' adding: 'It is not the HSE's job the enforce targets for construction companies to meet.'

Myers said he was determined to see changes in the industry over the next year and announced plans for a panindustry sub-committee to set construction-specific health and safety targets 'in the next year'.

'We need to develop a strategy for the construction industry, ' he said of the committee. 'If we can encourage companies to set their own targets rather than have them enforced, maybe we can begin to change the industry's culture.'

Last week the quarrying industry led the way by setting a target to cut accidents by 50% over the next five years.

This was the first industryspecific target to be set following the launch of the Government's 'Revitalising Health & Safety' last month, an initiative it hopes will cut fatal accidents in the workplace by 10% by 2010.

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