Belfast Telegraph

Action urged over workplace deaths

Urgent action to stem the number of workplace fatalities in Northern Ireland is needed, SDLP Assembly member John Dallat said.

Main contractors should be held responsible at all times for site safety with tough new legislation, he added.

Workers in Northern Ireland are twice as likely to die at work than staff in other UK regions because of a high accident rate, an audit office report revealed today.

Mr Dallat said: "In recent written questions tabled by me the Minister Arlene Foster indicated that she had no plans to revise the legislation.

"This report surely will convince her that there is an urgent need to take stock of why twice as many people are dying at the workplace here in the north."

Regulations already place a duty for the management of health and safety at a building site on the main contractor, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment said. There were 31 prosecutions following construction fatalities in ten years from April 2000.

The audit office said the accident rate may be because Northern Ireland has a higher proportion of tradesmen than the rest of the UK, doing jobs which are more dangerous than management or clerical roles.

There was some progress in cutting the fatality rate over the last decade. But work-related ill health and accidents costs around £250 million a year.

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