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Killing time

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THE HSE's own statistics confirm John Anderson's view that there has been no marked reduction in accident figures since the introduction of the Construction (Design & Management) regulations in March 1994.

Although there has been a reduction in the number of fatal accidents in construction in the past five years, it does not constitute the step change promised by the CDM regulations.

Injury figures show no significant improvement in construction injury rates since 1993 when 1,655 injuries per 100,000 workers were reported. In 1997/98 the rate was 1,485 injuries per 100,000 construction workers.

Exactly why these trends continue remains unclear. There are now around 4,500 planning supervisors involved in health and safety who were not focused on safety before.

Anderson argues that many of these people are more concerned with generating paperwork to protect their companies from law suits than with improving safety. He adds that this is the result of flawed CDM legislation and outlines three changes to make the regulations more effective and less costly:

Pre-construction health and safety matters to be co-ordinated by one lead designer

Once construction begins, health and safety to be run by principal contractor

Abandon formal competence assessments already covered by other regulations.

The HSE recognises there is room for improvement but denies it is down to flawed legislation. It believes the problems that have arisen since CDM's introduction can be tackled through a revision to the CDM codes of practice and by becoming more assertive. This, no doubt, means more prosecutions.

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