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Professionals to blame for construction's poor safety record

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CONSTRUCTION professionals are to blame for the industry's poor accident record because they refuse to take responsibility for site safety, a senior Health and Safety Executive officer claimed this week.

Speaking at an Institution of Civil Engineers safety forum, HSE head of construction policy Stephen Wright, said the industry relied too heavily on regulations when professionals should be looking to change safety culture on site.

'Stop blaming others or waiting for them to act, ' he said.

The HSE is to launch a discussion document in the autumn in advance of a possible overhaul of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations in 2004, and Wright is keen for all involved in the industry to contribute. The ICE Health & Safety Board will co-ordinate views of its members to feed into the discussion.

'Construction is the only industry I know that continually calls for more legislation and more inspectors out on site, ' said Wright.

'But this is not the answer. We cannot go on pouring money into health and safety. We need to start with good leadership and invest in management and training.'

Universities and professional institutions were singled out for particular criticism by Wright, a theme that was taken up by John Anderson, independent consultant and specialist in tunnelling safety.

'We can argue about the detail, but we have got the legislation more or less right, ' said Anderson a former senior HSE inspector.

'But we have got to get young professionals to understand that health and safety is a key part of their professional knowledge.

It's not happening and it's a disgrace.'

INFOPLUS To enter into the safety debate, e-mail health&safety@ice. org. uk.

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