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Inquiry launched into construction deaths

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), today announced the launch of an inquiry into the underlying causes of construction fatalities.

Secretary of State at the DWP, James Purnell,has appointed former Trades Union Congress president Rita Donaghy as independent Chair to the inquiry.

77 people died in construction in 2006/7, reducing to 72 in 2007/8. Construction is the second most dangerous sector to work in after agriculture.

Purnell said: "The construction industry is one of the most dangerous sectors in the country - over 2,800 people have died from injuries they received as a result of construction work in the past 25 years.

"No one can find it acceptable that this number of people have died directly as a cause of their work and we are not making sufficient progress on preventing this total of human misery.

"The high number of fatalities in construction sector continue to be of particular concern to us which is why I have asked Rita Donaghy to Chair an inquiry looking at the underlying causes of construction fatal incidents to see what more can done to reduce this terrible toll."

Rita Donaghy said: "I am keen to get started and work with the trade unions, the industry and the Health and Safety Executive to see what lessons we learn from the root causes of construction accidents so that we can improve the health and safety of construction workers."

The inquiry will be undertaken in three phases:

  • Firstly to review existing work to understand fatal injuries in construction with specific reference to vulnerability.

  • Secondly, to carry out a deeper analysis of underlying causes including factors outside the health and safety system, and

  • Thirdly - reporting to Ministers and Health and Safety Executive Board.

Independent academic peer reviewers with detailed knowledge of the construction industry will assist Rita Donaghy, and the inquiry will report to Ministers next year.

Rita Donaghy CV:

Chair of ACAS between 2000-07
Member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life and Low Pay Commission.
President of the TUC 1999-2000
Member of the TUC General Council 1987-2000.

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