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The Unite union wants demolition companies to introduce new measures in 2020 that protect workers’ safety.


There were several deaths of demolition workers in 2019, including a scaffolding incident that killed four workers in Reading, Berkshire. Two demolition workers died at Longannet Power Station in Fife and two were killed at Redcar Steelworks.


Jerry Swain, Unite’s officer for construction, said of 2019:


“This year has been horrendous for the demolition industry. In addition to four fatalities, we had a major scaffold collapse during the demolition of a shopping centre in Reading, in which thankfully no one was killed.”


Swain said that lessons must be learnt from each incident, and claims that some fatal accidents have not been adequately investigated or inquiries are taking too long. For example, four workers died in Grosevenor Square back in 2014, but the inquiry into this incident has not yet been completed, leaving grieving families waiting for closure more than five years on.


All companies that directly employ workers, as well as the companies to which they subcontract work, should have employees that are competent and trained in health and safety procedures. All PPE (personal protective equipment) and tools used by demolition workers need to be regularly checked and should provide adequate protection.


Swain says that nobody should work in dangerous conditions that could lead to serious injuries or death. He wants companies to check that every demolition worker has B&CE Death Benefits Scheme life insurance cover.

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