Birmingham UCU has learned that a construction worker has been killed and a second injured in a building site on the University of Birmingham’s Edgbaston campus. West Midlands Police are currently leading an investigation into the incident.
The incident is believed to have taken place within the Civil Engineering Laboratories zone on Terrace Road. It took place just after 2.20pm last Tuesday, January 7, but no details were released at the time.
Birmingham UCU only learned of the death after reading a Birmingham Mail news story of the incident published on 13 January, almost a week later. To date, the University has not notified the desingated staff trade union safety representatives of the incident, despite an official commitment in the University’s Safety Representatives’ Charter (pdf) to “consulting with and involving Safety Representatives, to ensure effective health and safety management”. The University also appears not to have informed staff and students at the time of publication.
Staff safety representatives from Birmingham UCU and the other campus trade unions are working together to obtain further information about what has happened. Safety representatives have submitted a request for futher information and to ensure that trade unions are fully involved in promoting the highest standard of health and safety on campus building sites.
The lack of communication is consistent with the University’s response to the emergency evacucation of the Dubai campus last summer. While thankfully nobody appears to have been seriously injured in the Dubai evacuation, it was disturbing that the University failed to notify the designated union safety representatives. After Birmingham UCU raised the incident, senior management apologised for the lack of notification, confirmed that the University’s health and safety policy applied to the Dubai campus, and agreed to work with the designated union safety representatives on health and safety matters.
A spokesperson for Birmingham UCU said: “It is deeply upsetting to learn that a worker has been killed and another seriously injured on a building site on our campus. Our sympathies go out to the workers’ families and co-workers.
“We are extremely disappointed the University failed to notify its designated health and safety representatives of the incident and, more than a week later, its own staff and students. This is especially disappointing given the seriousness of the incident and the commitment sernior management gave last year year to full co-operate with campus trade unions to improve health and safety for everyone.
“We call on the University to follow its own health and safety policy and fully involve campus trade unions in actions arising from the death. Co-operation is essential if we are to understand what has happened and learn from this tragedy and keep everyone safe, both in Edgbaston and on the controversial new Dubai campus, where a new phase of construction work is shortly due to begin.”