Five construction sites were closed down per day in Belgium last year because of precarious working conditions, Het Nieuwsblad reported on Wednesday.
The number, while stable, was worrying because the number of checks had decreased by a quarter, the daily said, adding that the construction industry itself was in favour of more checks.
Quoting figures from the General Directorate for the Monitoring of Well-Being at Work, Het Nieuwsblad reported that 1,417 worksites were closed last year – between five and six per day. A few years ago, the figure had risen to 1,606, but many more checks were being made at the time.
In 2013, a total of 14,672 checks were carried out, as against 10,627 in 2016. In 2011, eight workers lost their lives while there were six deaths in 2016.
The construction sector says it deplores the reduced number of checks. “Everyone should conform to Belgian law,” says Frederik Bronckaerts of the Construction Federation. “We note that some foreign companies do not invest enough in safety. Unsafe work is a form of disloyal competition.”
The number of accidents in the construction sector has nevertheless dropped, from 20,164 in 2011 to just over 14,000 in 2015, “but it’s mainly the slight accidents that have been decreasing; the more severe ones are on the increase,” says Bronckaerts.