On the plus side, there were once again no workplace fatalities among operatives for the sixth consecutive year. In fact, there has only been one site death among NASC members since 2005.
NASC's 2019 Safety Report documents and analyses accident and injury statistics for its full contracting members – representing more than 16,700 UK scaffolding operatives – in 2018.
There was a 27% rise in the number of incidents, from 89 in 2017 (which was an all-time low) to 113 in 2018. This was the highest it has been since 2012.
The frequency rate, defined as the number of reported accidents multiplied by 1000 divided by the average number of hours worked, was 0.35 in 2018, up from 0.28 in both 2017 and 2016. This was also the worst result since 2012.
NASC full contracting members are required to submit a detailed accident return as a requirement of membership. Analysis of the 2018 returns shows that the most common cause of accident and injury was ‘slips, trips and falls on the same level’ – representing more than 43% of all accidents reported. There were 22 falls from height, up from 14 in 2017, and four falls of materials, down from 12 in 2017.
NASC president Des Moore, who is chief executive of Altrad subsidiary Trad Group, said: “While it is slightly disappointing to see a slight year-on-year rise in the number of reported incidents, it is important to view this figure in context – taking into account the 16,000+ operatives who completed millions of working hours in 2018 without injury.
“Indeed, the annual incidence and frequency rates remain incredibly low, demonstrating how much value NASC full contracting members place on implementing and enforcing safe working standards on every project they undertake.
“However, there is always room for improvement. This is why the NASC will use the data collected to drive positive change – looking for ways to lead safety in our industry and help our members continually improve H&S standards on sites and in yards across the UK.
“We’re particularly keen to reduce slips and trips and will be working closely with clients and contractors to achieve this aim.”
NASC managing director Robin James added: “The NASC believes wholeheartedly in safety leadership, accountability and transparency, which is why it goes to such great lengths every year to collate, analyse and publish a detailed safety report to enable the NASC to focus on strategies and guidance to improve the scaffolding industry.
“It is only through this process that we are able to lead on safety through our ongoing collaboration with the Health & Safety Executive and other leading construction bodies, and the continued support and determination of NASC members, that our trade body can improve on its already excellent safety standards.”