European Builders Confederation - Under Construction II
Since February this year, the European Builders Confederation (EBC) - the FMB is a founding member - has been running a project called ‘Under Construction II’. The project seeks to improve health and safety amongst construction SMEs by encouraging EBC members to share best practice.
Since its launch the project has visited 10 capital cities including Brussels, Rome, Prague and Ankara. The closing conference took place in London over two days in November, and FMB Media and Communications Manager Jayne Curtis went along to find out more…
On the first day, 30 guests from 11 EBC partner organisations of various European countries toured the London 2012 Olympic Games site in East London, focusing on the health and safety challenge of constructing the facilities for the Games.
On the second day, delegates were welcomed by Andrea Marconi, President of the EBC, who spoke about the successes of the Under Construction II project so far.
EVERY WORKER SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO GO HOME SAFELY
Lord McKenzie, Under Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with responsibility for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), then set the scene in the construction industry with regard to health and safety, he said that according to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, around 1,300 European construction workers are killed each year, more than twice the average of other industrial sectors. Lord McKenzie outlined his approach to improving health and safety in construction saying: “Firstly, we need to raise awareness of the risks which construction workers are exposed to. Secondly, there is the continued need to put suitable preventive and/or protective measures in place to manage those risks. And thirdly, we need to listen to and engage with our stakeholders.” Lord McKenzie ended with this charter for health and safety in construction: “Good health and safety is a business imperative. It is certainly a legal imperative. But above all it is a moral imperative. Every worker should have the right to go home safe to their family at the end of their shift.”
(L-R) FMB National President, Ron Storer, Under Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Lord Mckenzie and Richard Diment, FMB Director General
Philip White, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Construction at the HSE spoke next, and said that despite a fall in fatalities for the construction sector as a whole, the picture for SMEs was not as positive as they still had the highest levels of fatalities. He said: “SMEs and small sites face various challenges, many of which differ from those of larger firms and sites. The main challenge for SMEs is finding the time to train and keep up to date with legislation.”
Kevin Fear, Head of Health and Safety Strategy at ConstructionSkills spoke about the sector skills body’s focus on improving competence in order to improve health and safety. Speaking about the constant changes and improvements in best practice and regulation, he said: “What may have been acceptable yesterday may not be today”.
Neal Stone, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the British Safety Council (BSC) spoke to delegates about the work of BSC, focusing on its work with young people. He explained the need for better health and training for young people saying: “In the UK in the last decade, 66 under 19s have been killed at work.”
MAKING LEGISLATION AND BEST PRACTICE CLEAR TO WORKERS
FMB and EBC Past President, David Croft, kicked off the questions and answers session by congratulating all agencies involved on the increased use of videos, which he said made legislation and best practice clearer to workers. Richard Diment, Director General of the FMB asked delegates what they thought was the best way to get workers on site to watch the videos that various agencies have made. Responses included taking a laptop on site to show to videos or sending staff to a Working Well Together Safety Health Awareness Day (SHAD).
Peter O’Connell, Policy Manager at the FMB asked the panel: “What are your best pieces of advice to construction SMEs?” Answers included:
- Be aware of your responsibility on site at all times
- Identify someone in the company with a passion for health and safety then give them the time and space to get on with changing the company and staff mindset on the importance of health and safety.
The session was closed by Riccardo Viaggi, Secretary General of the EBC who presented the Under Construction II report and results. The report is available to download at http://tinyurl.com/yk4a7vp