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The question - Safety

Latest figures from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) show that 70 people are still killed in the construction industry every year.

Where is the industry going wrong and what can it do to improve?

If safety is our number one priority then we need to change the current focus on time and cost.

Clients must provide sufficient money and time for construction teams to deliver an accident free quality solution. Project bonuses should then be set against zero accident targets, instead of reducing costs or completing early.

Andrew Powell, 41, senior group engineer, Manchester Civil engineers build power stations, bridges, roads, tall buildings and things that involve working in high places and moving trucks; things that are inherently unsafe. No matter how good designers and contractors get at understanding health and safety issues, this will not change.

Andy Eggleston, 30, senior engineer, Yorkshire Part of the problem stems from poorly trained labourers combined with poor site management. This is a result of uncommitted senior management. While profits and share price are unaffected by these poor safety statistics, apathy will continue.

Charles Brewerton, project engineer, Brighton It is all about hazard and risk perception - and with the construction industry being a predominantly male domain I think male bravado may have an influence here. You can have as many procedures in place as you like but you will not change the male psyche.

Charis Fowler, 32, senior engineer, Midlands Two key issues act against good health and safety practice.

First, responsibility has become too fragmented between far too many individuals and organisations, often using contract forms which are nonproject specific. Secondly, staff involved in managing construction are becoming less skilled - such as non-engineering graduates, who focus only on financial management. Things can only be significantly improved by combining the modern CDM style risk assessment with a more focused and appropriately trained workforce, operating in well managed and quality oriented engineering organisations.

Mat Toy, 37, principal engineer, south east England I am certain that the number of inspectors in the construction industry should be increased and should focus on small building projects if fatalities are to be reduced.

Nick Langdon, 47, director, south east England We have accidents when we don't think through what we are doing, when we go about it in haste, when we do it unsafely because we think we'll get away with it, when the reconnaissance and planning has been poor, and when inspections have been rushed.

The job that goes safely and well has information available as early as possible, and is priced and programmed so that nobody is under pressure to cut corners to save money and time. To improve we need more HSE inspectors and more unannounced inspections of all levels of construction, with punishments that include site stoppage, fines and imprisonment.

Mike Dommett, 48, engineer, London

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