Union plans protest on site safety

THE country's largest union has condemned many building sites as time bombs following random inspections by officials in recent days.

"It's only one week into the New Year and the worrying trend of the high death toll in the construction industry looks set to continue," warned SIPTU's Eric Fleming.

The construction union committee attached to Congress meets today to consider a proposal for a countrywide site stoppage in two week's time.

"It's a protest-cum-memorial day for all our colleagues who died on the sites especially those fatalities in the run-up to Christmas," Mr Fleming said.

A total of 57 people lost their lives in work-related tragedies last year with 21 deaths on building sites.

Within a ten-day period in December, four men died including three members of SIPTU's construction branch.

Branch secretary Mr Fleming said the proposed Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford protests are to highlight the record death toll on sites in 2002.

Over 2,000 construction industry accidents were reported to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) last year but the statutory body conceded the accident toll was possibly twice as high.

Warning about the non-compliance of regulations, a spokesperson for the HSA said only 50% of notifiable accidents, where injured people are absent from work for three days or more, are reported.

The agency said that too many firms neglect their statutory duties but, at the same time, the percentage of reported accidents has significantly improved in recent years.

Mr Fleming said that during the planned protest day, unions will reiterate calls for tougher measures to penalise, and jail if necessary, developers and contractors responsible for poor safety standards.

"Politicians continue to put the issue of work safety on the back burner," said Mr Fleming.

"There's an unforgivable delay in reviewing the HSA laws and it's costing our members their lives.

"We are demanding maximum fines to be imposed for blatant breaches and we also want the charge of manslaughter to be included in the penalties available to the courts," Mr Fleming said.

"We believe it will take something as extreme as the risk of imprisonment to bring builders and developers to their senses," the official insisted.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on
www.irishexaminer.com/podcasts

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence