Call for Bond Street probe after deaths of four Crossrail workers
Concern over air quality as union says construction workers died ‘in their sleep’ at home
11 October, 2019 — By Tom Foot
THE country’s biggest construction union has warned of “serious health concerns” at Crossrail’s Bond Street station following the deaths of four construction workers.
Unite has stood down its members from the delayed multi-million pound section of the railway project and has demanded the Health and Safety Executive launch an investigation.
The union said it had been raising concerns about air quality levels and dust at Bond Street for months.
Regional officer Guy Langston said: “Workers at Bond Street have had genuine concerns about air quality levels for months and despite obstruction from management, Unite has ensured improvements have been made.
“The latest tragedies have again highlighted concerns with the air quality at the station and it is essential the HSE holds a full inquiry into all elements of health and safety on the project. Workers should not return to work until independent testing has confirmed that it is safe to do so.
“If workers are going to have any confidence in air quality monitoring it is essential that Costain and Skanska do not revert to their union-busting principles but fully involve Unite in testing and introducing measures to ensure that workers are not being placed at risk.”
He added: “If Costain and Skanska exclude Unite from the process then workers will simply not trust anything management says.”
Unite said Costain and Skanska, which is building Bond Street and the eastern ticket hall, had put an improved air quality monitoring system in place but that assurances it was properly working were “premature”.
The workers’ deaths were first revealed by the Enquirer, a construction industry magazine and website. It said that the two deaths of Bond Street workers “in their sleep” and at home this year were recorded as heart attacks, while another two had died last week, also in their homes.
A site source said: “Alarm bells are ringing among the workforce about this. None of the lads were that old; the oldest was in his 50s.”
Workers downed tools on the Bond Street site in July after dust-monitoring levels were “showing red”.
A spokesperson for Crossrail Ltd said the company’s thoughts were with the family, friends and colleagues of those who died, and added: “Crossrail Ltd demands the highest standards of health and safety across the project and we continue to work closely with our Bond Street contractor Costain Skanska Joint Venture in support of making sure this is the case.
“Crossrail and its contractors monitor the air quality at all sites to ensure that compliance requirements are met and that workers are not exposed to unacceptable levels of dust.”