Racist “banter” that would be unacceptable in other industries is still tolerated in parts of the construction industry, a report by the government’s equality watchdog has found

An Equality and Human Rights Commission (ECHR) study found there were few official complaints filed about racism in construction, but that racist incidents were often not reported by workers.

Kay Allen, a commissioner for the ECHR, said the industry “lagged behind” others in tackling racism. She said construction workers might be reluctant to report incidents of racism because they feared being labelled as troublemakers and losing work.

She said racism “has been allowed to persist in this industry in ways it might not have done elsewhere”.

The report also found the proportion of people from ethnic minority groups employed in the industry only grew slightly over the past decade.

The inquiry found that ethnic minorities made up only 3.3% of the workforce in construction – up from 1.9% in 1999 – compared with 7.9% of the national labour force.

It follows the publication last week of a study by the Construction Industry Council, which found that the industry was sidelining women and people from minority groups.