Builders ‘putting workers’ lives at risk’

ROUGE builders are still willing to risk the lives of employees on a daily basis, members of SIPTU’s construction branch told their biannual conference yesterday.

Paul Hansord of SIPTU’s Dublin Construction and Allied Trades branch said building contractors were forcing staff to work to dangerous deadlines which resulted in unnecessary loss of life and injury.

“These are not just statistics but families with real lives and families with wives and children,” he said.

“Since the early 1990s until today almost 300 workers have lost their lives because of deadly deadlines,” he added.

Mr Hansord, who said nothing would change in the industry until rogue firms were named and shamed, also criticised firms for not meeting their legal pension obligations.

“A large percentage of the workers are not in the legally binding pension scheme. Of the 30 deaths this year just 20% of families received benefits because the companies broke the law by not registering their workers with the legally binding pension scheme,” he said.

Construction branch secretary Eric Fleming said progress had been made in the last year but warned that any improvements could easily be lost.

Anthony Blake, also from SIPTU’s construction branch, said everyone in the building industry had been affected by site deaths.

“You can walk onto any construction site in Dublin and everyone knows someone who has been killed or maimed,” he said.

Referring to a saying now common on building sites, Mr Blake said: “You can put your boots on in the morning but you don’t know who’s going to take them off at night.”

A motion proposed by the Dublin Construction and Allied Trades branch that radical steps be taken to reverse the dangers builders are facing was unanimously passed by the conference delegates. In addition the motion also called for more Health and Safety Authority site inspections and the establishment of an independent health and welfare authority to tackle the carnage in the construction industry.

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