Construction union Unite is demanding that leading construction clients and principal contractors ensure that all workers on their projects are fully protected by death and injury insurance – or be removed from sites.

Too many deaths

While the industry has made improvements in reducing fatalities, there have been 178 deaths in the sector in the last five years according to the Health and Safety Executive. Thousands of serious and life changing injuries also occurred during that time.

The union made its call to coincide with International Workers’ Memorial Day today (Thursday 28 May) when workers come together to ‘remember the dead and fight for the living’.

Employers on notice

Unite has written to all the major construction clients and principal contractors demanding that they provide guarantees that all workers throughout the entire supply chain on their projects are protected by a death and injury insurance scheme.

Construction industry agreements, such as the Construction Industry Joint Council (CIJC) agreement, state clearly that employers are required to ensure that all their workers are covered.

Protect the living

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “All employers in the construction sector should abide by industry agreements. When someone dies at work, they leave behind a family to feed. The failure of the boss to provide the most basic safety standards has a devastating impact and haunts families for years to come.

“We honour those lost but our job now is to protect the living.

“Unite is getting organised and building power in our construction workplaces and communities because this is where we make real change happen.”

According to Unite, accident and death benefit cover is available for only £3 per week per worker but many employers are refusing to pay it.  This means that when a fatal accident occurs, an already devastated family is plunged into immediate financial hardship.

Protect workers

Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “Unite has a simple demand - safeguard and protect workers.  Clients and contractors need to ensure their entire supply chains are properly protecting their workers.  Companies that refuse or fail to comply should be swiftly removed not just from site but from our industry.”

Unite has been forced to name and shame various employers on flagship projects including HS2, where abiding by industrial agreements is compulsory, because they have failed to follow the rules and provide accident and life cover for their workers.


Notes to editors:

The accident and death benefit cover provided by the not for profit organisation the B&CE, which is recommended under the CIJC, costs less than £3 per worker per week.

A copy of the letter sent to construction clients (the letter to principal contractors is virtually identical)

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.