Close Non-Essential Building Sites

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People Before Profit Calls for Closure of Non-Essential Building Sites to halt spread of COVID-19

Health and Safety Authority must inspect all sites to ensure compliance with all protocols on COVID 19

In a statement today Brid Smith TD called for the immediate closure of non-essential building sites.

She said:

“It’s time to close the building sites. It makes no sense that peoples are being told to stay indoors and not gather in groups of more than four, yet construction workers are expected to continue going into sites where adequate social distancing cannot be maintained, either on site or when travelling to and from sites. We have been contacted by many building workers with concrete examples showing that the protocols in relation to social distancing are not been adhered to.

“Almost 150,000 workers work in construction. The danger here is that not only are they susceptible to getting the virus but are also at risk of spreading it to their family members and others in the community. This is an unacceptable risk which the government is prepared to take.”

Deputy Smith pointed out that the Health, Safety and Welfare at Work Act places duties on employers (Part 2, section 8):

·         To ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees

·         To manage and conduct work activities in such a way as to ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of all employees

She said:

“It is up the Health and Safety Authority, and ultimately the Minister, Regina Doherty, to ensure the law is being enforced. I have written to both today demanding that all sites be inspected to ensure that the guidance from the HSE is being adhered and that workers’ health is not being put at risk. Non-essential sites should be closed where HSE guidance is being ignored.

“At the best of times the construction industry is a dangerous place to work.  Workers in the industry can have little faith that at this time of crises their employers will suddenly make their health and safety a priority. I want to roundly condemn the government for giving in to pressure from the CIF to keep the sites open. The CIF just don’t care.

“I repeat the call from Unite the Union that all non-essential construction sites should shut down immediately in the interest of public health.”

  • The number of deaths in construction went from 5 in 2018 to 12 in 2019. This level of deaths has not been seen since 2015.
  • The death rate went from 3.5 per 100,000 people employed to approximately 8.2 per 100,000. 
  • The HSA Statistics Report for 2019 shows that, including less serious accidents, the highest non-fatal injury rates are found in the Construction sector at 38 per 1,000. The overall rate for the economy is 23 per 1,000.
  • Other than Agriculture, Construction is the most dangerous industry to work in.
  • Many of the fatalities involved small companies and self-employed tradespeople forced to cut corners to save money and meet deadlines. Clearly bogus self-employment is affecting safety levels and killing workers.