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Health and safety 'a top priority in construction'

The construction sector continues to place the highest priority on health and safety, an industry expert has stated.

Peter O'Connell, policy manager at the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said the industry has been extremely focused on improving safety for more than the last decade through greater engagement with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), following the productive summit of 2001.

The year was particularly bad for the number of fatalities witnessed in the UK construction sector and therefore the whole of the industry agreed that significant action needed to be taken.

Mr O'Connell commented: "Ultimately everyone has got the right to go home unharmed after their day's work. It is certainly something that the construction industry does take very seriously indeed."

He added that as a result of this continuing focus, the number of deaths in the workplace has come down steadily year-on-year, highlighting the considerable efforts that have gone into making the UK construction sector safer than ever.

Indeed, during the 1980s, the number of deaths stood around the 130-mark annually and therefore much success has been achieved in bringing this figure down.

According to recent data from the HSE, between April 2011 and March this year there were 49 deaths recorded in the UK construction sector.

The figures revealed a slight improvement from 50 worker fatalities for the 12 months to March 2011 and a considerable improvement on the five-year average for the industry, which stands at 59.

Mr O'Connell advised: "Planning, management, communication and training are essential and construction firms need to pay particular attention to anything involving work at height, vehicles and plant, manual handling, and if you work in repair and maintenance, asbestos."

He added that the FMB will continue to press for greater awareness of these important practices in a bid to ensure continued safety improvements is seen over the years to come. 

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