Just Sociology

The Costs of Elite & Safety Crime in Construction: A Closer Look

Elite crime and safety crime are two distinct types of criminal activity that have significant impacts on society. Elite crime refers to wrongdoing committed by individuals and corporations at the top of the social and economic hierarchy, while safety crime relates to the prevention of harm to employees and the public in the construction industry.

This article discusses the costs of elite crime versus street crime and safety crime in the construction industry, as well as the factors contributing to high death and injury rates in the construction sector. Additionally, we will take a closer look at the weak trade union in construction compared to the offshore oil industry in Norway and the UK.

Elite Crime and Safety Crime

Costs of Elite Crime Vs. Street Crime

Elite crime has a much larger economic impact than street crime. While street crimes, such as theft or robbery, can have severe and immediate consequences for the individual victim, elite crime can have far-reaching economic effects on society.

For instance, the financial fraud that occurred in the early 2000s involving organizations such as Enron had a devastating impact on the economy. These white-collar crimes often involve extensive planning and produce massive losses for stakeholders such as employees, stockholders, and the general public.

In contrast, street crimes are often opportunistic and have a limited impact on the wider society.

Safety Crime and the Construction Industry

Safety crime is the violation of health and safety regulations in the workplace, resulting in injuries, fatalities, or illnesses. The construction industry is known for having high injury and fatality rates.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report shows that there were 111 fatal injuries in construction in the UK in 2019/2020. Hazardous work environments, such as those involving heights or power tools, can result in severe injuries or death.

Organizations in the construction sector must prioritize safety policies to ensure that their workers are protected against potential hazards.

Causes of High Death and Injury Rates in the Construction Industry

Factors Contributing to High Death and Injury Rates

The construction industry is characterized by a casualized, sub-contracted, and migrant workforce. These precarious workers are often more vulnerable to safety hazards, as they may lack experience or knowledge of safety practices.

Furthermore, the long and complex supply chains in the industry can lead to a lack of accountability when accidents occur. Aggressive management practices, coupled with market pressures, may lead to the neglect of safety requirements, such as providing proper safety equipment or training.

In addition, industry norms may contribute to a lack of safety in the construction industry. A macho culture that rewards those who take risks can encourage workers to disregard safety protocols to impress their colleagues or supervisors.

Finally, complex regulatory processes may create confusion and deter organizations from properly investing in safety protocols.

Weak Trade Unions and Offshore Oil Industry Comparison

The offshore oil industry in Norway and the UK shares similarities with construction in terms of hazardous working conditions. However, the oil industry has far lower fatality and injury rates as a result of strong trade unions and safety representatives.

These workers have a legal right to be consulted regarding safety and environmental issues and may stop work if they believe that their safety or environmental standards are sub-standard. In contrast, the construction industry in the UK suffers from weak trade unions, which are unable to provide meaningful representation for workers.

With the decline of unionization in the construction industry, workers access to collective bargaining and worker participation in health and safety matters has been severely reduced, and the UK has one of the highest fatality rates in Europe. Conclusion:

Elite crime and safety crime have distinct impacts on society, but both require careful consideration in terms of policy and regulation.

The construction industrys high death and injury rates have various intertwined causes, including industry norms, regulatory processes, and weak trade unions. Adequate investment in improved safety, stronger trade unions, and better regulation will help to reduce the frequency and severity of accidents, ultimately creating a safer and more equitable workplace in the construction industry.

Directors Disqualification and Safety Failures

Use of Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986

The Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 provides for the disqualification of directors who are deemed unfit to act due to their conduct. Directors who engage in misconduct resulting in insolvency, criminal offenses, or breaches of company law may be disqualified for up to 15 years.

In recent years, the application of the Act has been extended to include directors who are in breach of health and safety legislation. The Act provides a necessary mechanism to ensure that individuals who are not fit to act as company directors are held accountable for their actions.

Directors have a responsibility to ensure that their organizations comply with health and safety regulations. However, if they fail to take appropriate steps to ensure safety standards are maintained, they may be held liable in the event of an accident or incident.

The use of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 provides a useful mechanism for holding directors accountable in cases of safety failures. The use of the Act in relation to safety matters is a relatively new development, and it may take some time for its full impact to be felt.

However, there are already examples of the Act being used to disqualify directors in cases where safety breaches have occurred. For example, in 2013, the managing director of a company responsible for the construction of a faulty balcony that led to the death of a student was disqualified as a director for five years.

The success of such disqualification orders sends a clear message to directors that they must take their health and safety responsibilities seriously.

Low Number of Disqualified Directors for Health and Safety Reasons

Despite the potential usefulness of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986, there has been a low number of disqualifications for health and safety reasons. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has the power to issue prohibition or improvement notices and prosecute directors in relation to breaches of health and safety legislation.

However, there have been only a few instances where the HSE has utilized the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 to hold directors accountable for safety failures. One reason for this low number of disqualifications may be the higher evidential threshold required to obtain a disqualification order compared to other enforcement measures.

The Act requires proof that the director’s conduct makes them unfit to act as a director. This involves demonstrating the director’s knowledge or awareness of the safety risks, as well as their failure to take appropriate measures to mitigate those risks.

Another reason for the low number of disqualifications may be the reluctance of the HSE to pursue these cases. While the HSE has the power to make recommendations for disqualification, it is ultimately up to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to decide whether or not to disqualify a director.

This may result in delays and a lack of uniformity in the approach taken. In the construction industry, safety standards are particularly high due to the hazards associated with working on construction sites.

However, the number of disqualified directors in the industry remains relatively low. The HSE has stated that it will seek disqualifications in cases where there has been a deliberate disregard for safety, but it may be challenging to prove such intent in practice.

Conclusion:

The Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 provides a mechanism for holding directors accountable for their conduct in cases of insolvency, criminal offenses, or breaches of company law. In recent years, the Act has been extended to include directors in breach of health and safety legislation.

While this offers a means of holding directors accountable for safety failures, the evidential threshold required to obtain a disqualification order may be higher than other enforcement measures. Furthermore, the low number of disqualifications issued for health and safety reasons suggests that there may be reluctance on the part of the HSE to pursue these cases.

Nonetheless, the use of the Act provides an important means of ensuring that directors take their responsibilities for health and safety seriously. In conclusion, this article has highlighted the often-overlooked yet significant impact of elite crime, safety crime, and safety failures in society.

The high number of fatalities, injuries, and economic losses incurred by these crimes call for the need to prioritize safety policies, create stronger trade unions, and better regulation. While the use of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 in the construction industry provides a necessary mechanism for holding directors accountable for their conduct, there is still much work to be done to ensure that individuals and corporations at the top of the social and economic hierarchy are held to the same standard as others.

FAQs:

1. What is Elite Crime?

Elite Crime refers to criminal activity committed by individuals and corporations at the highest level of social and economic hierarchy. White-collar crimes such as financial fraud or insider trading are examples of elite crime.

2. What is Safety Crime?

Safety Crime refers to the violation of health and safety regulations in the workplace, resulting in injuries, fatalities, or illnesses. 3.

What is the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986?

The Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 provides for the disqualification of directors who are deemed unfit to act due to their conduct, including safety breaches.

4. Why is the construction industry particularly vulnerable to safety failures?

The construction industry is often characterized by a casualized, sub-contracted, and migrant workforce, complex supply chains, and a macho culture that rewards those who take risks. These factors make it more difficult to implement safety policies and practices effectively.

5. What can be done to reduce safety failures and crime in the workplace?

Organizations can prioritize safety policies, create stronger trade unions, and better regulation, while individuals can prioritize safety measures and report any safety issues to their supervisors or relevant authorities.

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