When regulation is introduced or updated there is an expectation that everyone will follow it because it becomes mandatory to follow. Human nature however seems to take a different view in that no matter how much regulation is introduced or how much (or little) training is given, there will always be those who decide to ignore it and prefer to cut corners and take risks with their lives
‘There have been significant reductions in the number and rate of injury over the last 20 years or more. Nevertheless, construction remains a high risk industry. Although it accounts for only about 5% of the employees in Britain it accounts for 27% of fatal injuries to employees and 10% of reported major injuries.
The latest results in construction show:
- 39 fatal injuries to workers. 12 of these fatalities were to the self-employed. This compares with an average of 53 over the previous five years – including an average of 18 to the self-employed (RIDDOR);
- about 3 700 occupational cancer cases are estimated to arise each year as a result of past exposures in the construction sector (CAN04);
- there were an estimated 74 thousand total cases and 31 thousand new cases of work-related ill health (LFS, 2012);
- an estimated 1.4 million working days were lost in 2011/12, 818 thousand due to ill health and 584 thousand due to workplace injury, making a total of 0.7 days lost per worker (LFS, 2012).’
These statistics are even more worrying when we appreciate that the UK construction industry over the last few years, has suffered with low output due to the global economic downturn, therefore resulting in a significant reduction in personnel within the industry. It would be fair to expect a natural reduction in fatalities and accidents due to less people working within the industry, rather than being able to relate this to the impact of regulation. Regulation is important, in fact essential, however its effectiveness will relate to the manner in which it is understood, implemented and enforced.
When regulation is introduced or updated there is an expectation that everyone will follow it because it becomes mandatory to follow. Human nature however seems to take a different view in that no matter how much regulation is introduced or how much (or little) training is given, there will always be those who decide to ignore it and prefer to cut corners and take risks with their lives. Legislation assumes that people will understand and follow it however, what is not accounted for is the 'human factor'. I have worked on many construction sites as a Labourer, a Bricklayer and visited sites as a Consultant. During my early years on site I witnessed some serious health & safety breaches, where operatives for some unknown reason would pay little regard to their own wellbeing or to the wellbeing of others, and would often take short cuts just to 'get the job done'. The attitude to health & safety of most of the operative on site at the time was that health & safety was a hindrance that got in the way of them doing their jobs. Although, I have seen a marked improvement is health & safety procedures on construction sites over recent years there still remains an 'ignorance' to health & safety by many, particularly the more experienced operatives who have been on site for many years. Take a look at the extraordinary clip below, which provides an example of how little value we can often place on our safety:
The images below, which are widely available on-line and you may have seen then before, however they provide some quite shocking examples of how little some people value their lives and how they are prepared to accept high levels of risk, by cutting corners. The images are taken from all over the World, not just the UK. When you look at the images I am sure you will ask yourself, ‘what was going on in that person’s head at the time’, a question that these people obviously failed to ask themselves. Part 2 will be published in the New Year with more examples similar to those below:
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