CDM Early Day Motion

Cameron makes a U-Turn!

Conservative leader David Cameron yesterday did a u-turn on his opposition to regulations that could play a key role in improving health and safety in the construction industry.

Mr Cameron had put forward an Early Day Motion calling for the Construction (Design Management) (CDM) Regulations 2007 to be annulled, something that Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) felt would be misguided.

However, at the debate, Andrew Selous MP, who was speaking in favour of the motion, said that it was never the intention of his party to seek the annulment of the regulations:

"There is a set form of words for an early day motion and I personally think it unfortunate that it has to use the phrase "annul" the regulations. My party and I are wholly committed to the highest possible standards of health and safety."

Mr Selous said the intention of the motion was to "probe Ministers on the issue", to ask them to go further and faster in some circumstances, to question why they were taking certain approaches and to seek assurances about the implementation of the regulations.

The parliamentary under secretary of state for work and pensions, Anne McGuire MP, wasn't amused, though. She accused the Conservatives of "a feat of political athleticism".

"The Opposition give out the message that on health and safety issues they see regulation and burden, whereas we see the welfare of the construction worker. The message that has been given here to the construction industry, to clients and to cowboy builders is that the Conservatives want to annul regulations that are about improving the health and safety of workers in this country."

Richard Jones, IOSH's director of technical affairs, attended the debate and said that he was "pleased" with the outcome:

"Seeking an annulment was wholly inappropriate and sent out entirely the wrong message to business. This type of knee-jerk reaction to health and safety improvements must never be repeated. We hope that those in positions to make decisions and influence public opinion act in a more responsible and considered way in future."

"CDM 2007 is about designing-in safety and taking a planned, risk-based approach. It's a win-win situation: workers and public will be protected and the client will avoid delays and unscheduled costs. It's about practical problem solving - getting the job done well and safely." An average of one worker is killed and 70 injured each week in the construction industry. In the last 25 years, over 2,800 people have died from injuries received as a result of construction work, and many more have been injured or made ill. 20 young people, aged 16-19, have been killed in the construction industry in the last decade.

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