Construction deaths have fallen as a result of the recession, according to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures released last week.
In the year to 31 March, 41 construction workers died in accidents, a 21% drop from 52 in the previous year.
“There are fewer workers, working less overtime and in a recession the more inexperienced staff are first to go,” said HSE chief inspector of construction Philip White.
Those workers that are still on site tend to be more experienced and that has also contributed to the lower death rate.
These factors could outweigh the effects of contractors cutting corners to bring down costs, said White.
But White said that a step change in health and safety culture was also a contributing factor.
The HSE warned that there was likely to be a rise in site deaths again when the construction industry emerges from recession. “We must be wary of a potential increase in fatalities and learn lessons from history.
“New staff may be young, inexperienced and not risk aware”
“New staff may be young, inexperienced and not risk aware,” added White.
The HSE is, like many other government bodies, facing cuts of 25% after October’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
White said it was looking for more efficient ways to promote the HSE’s health and safety messages.
The latest HSE figures reveal that the refurbishment sector is causing alarm with the number of deaths increasing.
Fatal accidents also seemed to involve employees of smaller firms. The HSE has revamped its website to target smaller firms in response to this.
The figures also revealed that falls from height remained the most common cause of a site death.