Construction leaders have lodged their concern after life-saving laws were ditched as part of a government shake-up of health and safety regulations.
Ministers are looking to reduce the amount of red tape that surrounds the industry but union Ucatt has stated that the end of head protection rulings could mean that some workers are risking an injury. There is a fear that contractors may begin to cut corners and not consider safety equipment as being a number one priority for building sites which could potentially lead to more deaths. Leaders stated that the protective headgear laws had seen the amount of fatal head injuries drop from 48 to 14 per year.
Ucatt has now pointed the finger at the government for "breaking promises" and explained that the union has been stunned that this decision has been made by ministers and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The department claimed that weaker personal protective equipment regulation would suffice following a review of the current rules by Professor Ragnar Lofstedt.
Steve Murphy, general secretary of the union, said: "Construction workers are being placed in danger by the scrapping of these regulations. Many construction companies will use the scrapping of the regulations as an excuse not to provide life-saving protective equipment.
"It is highly distressing that the HSE is failing to take proactive measures to ensure that workers are not placed in danger."
The hard hat is a prominent feature on a building has long been seen as a necessity to help significantly reduce the amount of injuries that are caused by falling objects and in light of Ucatt's criticism the HSE has moved to defend itself. The organisation stated that the amendments were part of wider reforms aimed at helping employers establish what they need to do in order to manage workplace risks.
In a statement, the department also maintained that the changes "do not compromise essential health and safety protections" and that it is designed to make legislative framework "simpler and clearer".
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