Construction problems – addressing ‘risky contracts’

At a time when a major construction boost is needed things look a bit shaky.

Fletcher Construction has had major problems – Roll call of Fletcher Buildings’ massive loss-making construction projects

Earlier this month: Ebert Construction in receivership, major apartment site locked down

Raymond Huo and one hundred deaths

Raymond Huo has blogged at Red Alert on workplace deaths but has claimed numbers that are vague and seem to be grossly overstated.

A hundred deaths and $3.5bl a year and finally, Williamson admits we have a problem….

Posted by  on November 6th, 2012

The scale of the unsafe building practices revealed in a recent clampdown raises serious questions about why Maurice Williamson and his National-ACT Government have continued with such a nonchalant approach for so long.

While Building & Construction Minister Maurice Williamson finally admits there is a problem, this Government has had four years in office, and in the meantime, we’ve had an average of 100 deaths a year, with workplace injuries and fatalities reportedly costing New Zealand about $3.5 billion annually.

Translate that into the devastation caused to builders and their families, the lost productivity and the additional costs to ACC; these are not the standards we would expect of a developed nation.  Why should we accept that our construction workers are twice as likely to be killed or injured on the job, compared to workers on a site in the United Kingdom?

At the heart of the problem is this ‘hands off’ approach by a Government that imagines the market will sort somehow out its own problems.

It hasn’t worked in the mining industry, and it’s not working in the construction industry.

Labour believes we have to get back to having equal opportunities for all Kiwis; we do not accept that lowering our health and safety performance for some sectors is necessary for economic recovery.

With the Christchurch rebuild starting and the Government  now at least talkingabout the Auckland housing crisis, keeping workers safe must become a recognised priority for all parties involved.

Huo isn’t clear about whether he is claiming an average hundred deaths a year in the building industry or in total, but either way it seems like he is grossly overstating figures, and there seems to be no relationship between what he’s saying and the official figures over the four years of a “National-ACT” government.

According to OSH statistics the peak was in 2010 with 77 fatalities (including 29 at Pike River).  Last year there were less fatalities (41) than 2007 or 2008, and this year the indications are for a lower total – there are 20 confirmed deaths up to 24 August.

Construction had a peak of 18 deaths in 2009 and has dropped significantly since then.

I have asked Huo to indicate where he gets his figures from. I’ll report back if he responds.

Workplace fatalities 2007 – 2012

Industry 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011† 2012*
Accommodation and Food Services 1 0 1 0 0 1
Administrative and Support Services 1 0 0 0 0 0
Agriculture 15 19 10 19 15 8
Arts and Recreation Services 1 12 12 7 1 2
Construction 10 8 18 6 4 3
Education and Training 1 0 3 2 1 0
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services 2 0 1 3 3 0
Forestry 3 4 4 4 3 5
Health Care and Social Assistance 0 1 2 1 2 0
Manufacturing 4 3 10 1 3 1
Mining and extractives 1 0 0 29 1 0
Other Services 0 1 1 0 1 0
Public Administration and Safety 0 4 2 2 1 0
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services 0 0 0 0 1 0
Transport, Postal and Warehousing 6 2 3 3 5 0
Wholesale Trade 0 0 1 0 0 0
Total 45 54 68 77 41 20

† 2011 figures are provisional and subject to change.

* 2012 figures are as at 8 August 2012. These figures are provisional and subject to change.

The statistics show the number of fatalities, notified to the Department of Labour under the Health and Safety in Employment (HSE) Act 1992. The statistics do not include: fatalities in the maritime or aviation sectors or due to work-related crashes on the road as these are investigated by Maritime New Zealand, the Civil Aviation Authority and the NZ Police respectively. Nor do they include fatalities from long latency diseases caused by exposure to hazardous substances.

http://www.osh.govt.nz/resources/stats/fatalities-summary.shtml

Update: Huo is quoting from this article from NZ Herald:
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10844507

I’m seeking clarification from NZH.