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Safety valve


Regarding the much quoted statement that '60% of construction fatalities are caused by poor design', the National Audit Office (NAO) report Improving Health and Safety in the Construction Industry actually said that 'decisions made before building work begins, including, for example, during design, account for up to 60% of fatal accidents'.

These decisions must include those by clients setting unachievable project programmes or budgets, and accepting lowest tenders; and by contractors putting profit above safety, inadequate risk assessments and supervision.

The NAO also made it clear that the term 'designer' includes temporary works designers, specialist contractors and manufacturers.

Not one of the many example accidents listed in the report appears to have anything to do with poor permanent works design. In my experience professional engineering designers take safety very seriously and I cannot think of a single example in my career of something 'impossible to build', to quote Charlie Hutchison (Letters 10 June).

Could it be that the CDM regulations have had little effect on safety statistics because most construction accidents are not design related?

Paul Butcher, (M), paulbutcher@ntlworld. com

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