There were 35 fatalities in the industry between April and October, latest Health and Safety Executive figures have revealed.

This six-month figure compares with 37 over the same period in 2005/06, when the year-end total was 64, and 34 in 2006/07, when the final figure was 84.

Deaths in refurbishment and repair, the focus of a government safety crackdown, have stayed high – accounting for 52% of fatalities, compared with 22% in 2006/07. This is attributed to an increase in the refurbishment of non-domestic premises.

In view of this, the blitz on refurbishment during February will now include all sites rather than just housebuilding.

The HSE and Health and Safety Commission have defended their performance at a Department of Work and Pensions select committee hearing.