18/10/2002

Awareness week highlights risks of working at heights

Local companies have thrown their weight behind the European Health & Safety Week to raise awareness of the danger of working at heights on construction sites.

The safety initiative comes in the wake of incidents in which two men tragically lost their lives as a result of falls. In all, there have been five people killed in the local construction industry since April – deaths which could have been avoided – and about 50% of all major injuries and fatal accidents occur as a result of falls.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), which trained 7,300 workers last year in health and safety procedures, in conjunction with Farrans Construction Ltd, has backed the Europe-wide campaign – 'Working at Heights' – which runs until Friday. It is hoped that, with their support, the message will spread to the 47,000 people who currently work in the sector.

Brian Walker, Regional Manager at CITB, said: "Unless everyone from the boardroom to those working on-site, starts to take responsibility for their own welfare and the welfare of others, accidents and deaths will continue, particularly from those working from heights."

John Gillvray, Managing Director of Farrans Construction Ltd, said that employees must receive adequate training when working at heights as it is a "commonplace activity on all construction sites".

He added: "Doing something safely should be recognised as an inseparable element of doing it right just as much as efficiency and productivity. Training is a core element in our health and safety improvement strategy."

The Head of the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), Ken Logan, welcomed the move saying the construction industry must be "proactive in addressing this issue".

(CL)

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