Skip to main content

Rita Donaghy Report

Volume 718: debated on Tuesday 30 March 2010


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Yvette Cooper) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

I am pleased to announce the publication of the Government’s response to Rita Donaghy’s report into the underlying causes of fatal construction accidents.

The UK is rightly regarded as having one of the best health and safety records in the world. Since 1997-98 the rate of fatal injuries to workers has fallen by 40 per cent, including in the construction sector, reflecting the significant focus on improving safety by the Health and Safety Executive, local authorities, businesses and trades unions. While this is very welcome, every death is one too many and a tragedy to those involved and their families. The Government believe that more must be done.

The number of deaths in the construction industry has been a particular cause of concern, with the rate of fatal accidents four times that of other industries. While there have been important improvements, 53 construction workers were still killed in 2008-09, for example. We therefore asked Rita Donaghy to carry out a review into the causes of construction fatalities.

On 8 July 2009 I announced the publication of Rita Donaghy’s report. The report contained 28 far-reaching recommendations for improving safety in the construction industry, extending across safety representatives, building control, the legal system, training and competence, and public procurement. I should again like to thank Rita Donaghy and her team for their excellent work in undertaking the inquiry.

We are now publishing our response, which builds on the issues and analysis within Rita Donaghy’s report to provide a framework for delivery of improvements in these areas. Our response reflects widespread consultation across government and with stakeholders. The Government fully accept 23 of the 28 recommendations including support of common minimum standards throughout publicly funded construction projects; mutual recognition between pre-qualification schemes; and support for greater worker participation. Two further recommendations related to the extension of gangmaster licensing regulations and the introduction of positive duties on directors raise important issues and warrant further consideration. Additional work is required fully to explore the relative options and understand the potential impact of introducing such measures. The reasons for these decisions are detailed within the response.

I hope that the action set out in the response further improves the safety record in the construction sector and provides some comfort to the families of those who have been killed by construction-related accidents.

This response is not an end in itself though, and we must continue to work together—government, business, unions and workers—if we are to ensure that jobs in construction are as safe as any other.

The Government’s response (Cm 7828) has been laid before Parliament and will be published later today. Copies of the response will be available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. It is also available on the DWP website at