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Construction worker death on Stratford building site prompts calls for action

Terry O'Brien, left, Sean Cullen, and George Fuller pay tribute to workers killed at the Docklands Light Railway and Crossrail sites. Terry O'Brien, left, Sean Cullen, and George Fuller pay tribute to workers killed at the Docklands Light Railway and Crossrail sites.

Thursday, March 27, 2014
1:26 PM

Campaigners have called for action over the risk of death or injury for construction workers after a fatal accident at a building site in Stratford.

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Construction Safety Campaign protestConstruction Safety Campaign protest

Kevin Campbell, 40, was killed on March 2 at the DLR site in Warton Road after he was struck by a falling object.

A medical team from London’s Air Ambulance service attended the scene and tried to resuscitate Mr Campbell, but were unable to save him.

He was pronounced dead at the scene by the air ambulance doctor.

A vigil was held this week in memory of Mr Campbell, with flowers and a minute’s silence outside the site – in the shadow of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Fatalities in numbers

39

The number of deaths of construction 
workers in 2012/13

53

The average number of fatalities over 
the past five years

49

The number of fatalities of construction 
workers in 2011/12

70,000

The estimated number of construction workers 
likely to be suffering ill health as a result of their work.

3,700

The estimated number of cancer cases each year due to chemical exposures in the construction sector

400%

Construction workers are four times more likely to be killed at work than the average person

Source: Health and Safety Executive

The Construction Safety Campaign (CSC), who arranged the vigil, said union health and safety officers were being denied access to building sites.

Tony O’Brien, a national spokesman for the CSC, said: “The building contractors have to allow union safety representatives on site.

“The deaths are a direct result of not having those safety reps there.”

Contractors Clancy Group, who run the site, declined to comment on site access for union representatives.

Construction deaths by year

2012/13 39

2010/11 50

2009/10 41

2008/9 52

2007/8 72

2006/7 79

Source: Health and Safety Executive

Peter Farrell, chairman of the CSC, pointed to the success story of the London Olympics, where unions were present and no workers were killed.

The accident that killed Mr Campbell, who was lead supervisor of piling operations, was followed by the death of a construction worker at a Crossrail site in Holborn – who was killed by falling concrete on March 7.

The same day, a 35-year-old crane driver suffered head injuries after a crane jib collapsed at a 43-storey tower site in Docklands.

Figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – the government work-based health and safety watchdog – show a general drop in the number of construction deaths, with last year the lowest on record.

A floral tribute left by the Construction Safety Campaign in memory of the workers killed at the Docklands Light Railway and Crossrail sites.A floral tribute left by the Construction Safety Campaign in memory of the workers killed at the Docklands Light Railway and Crossrail sites.

However, construction remains the deadliest industry, with workers nearly four times as likely to be killed at work compared to the average worker.

An HSE spokesman said: “Too many people die every year on Britain’s construction sites as a result of entirely avoidable incidents.

“The causes of ill health, such as unnecessary exposure to asbestos or silica dust, can also have fatal or debilitating consequences.

“We run targeted campaigns to help firms understand what they need to do, so they can put in place the practical measures needed to keep people safe.”

He added that companies which “deliberately cut corners and put their workers at risk will feel the full weight of the law”.

The Clancy Group offered its condolences to Mr Campbell’s family, with whom it has been in close contact, and will soon publish details of the funeral arrangements.

They said the DLR site is currently under HSE control as it carries out an investigation, and that a telephone counselling service has been set up for anyone affected by the incident.

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