Workers’ Memorial Day tragedy highlights need for health and safety to be prioritised

Unite Legal Services is calling on the Health and Safety Executive to conduct a full and prompt investigation into the tragic death of a construction worker on the Queensferry Crossing over the Firth of Forth, Scotland.

 The man, aged 60, was killed just after midday on 28 April after he was understood to have been hit by a part of a crane on the deck of the north tower. His death is thought to be the first fatality at the site since work began in 2011.

It has also been reported that a second man was injured as a result of the incident.

Work on the bridge, which is set to be complete at the end of the year, has temporarily been postponed while the matter is investigated.

The fatal accident took place on Workers’ Memorial Day, a remembrance day that pays tribute to those who have lost their lives at work. It honours the anniversary of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which came into force in the US in 1970.

The day marks a time at which trade unions and other organisations ask people across the world to ‘remember the dead and fight for the living’, to promote workplace safety.

According to Health and Safety Executive, 142 workers were killed at work in 2014/15 across the UK.

Howard Beckett, director of Unite Legal Services, said: “On behalf of Unite Legal Services, I’d like to offer my condolences to the family and friends of the worker who tragically lost his life at the Queensferry Crossing.

“This devastating loss is damning proof that we still need to improve health and safety standards across Britain, and a reminder that protecting workers should be seen as a responsibility of paramount importance.

“Last year, 35 construction workers lost their lives and there were more than 65,000 reported workplace incidents that led to ill-health. That means that around one in four of those who lose their life at work is a construction worker. This is simply unacceptable.

“Accidents such as these cannot continue. No job should lead to loss of life and Unite is committed to promoting this message to all employers to prevent devastating incidents such as these happening in the future.”