“Drastic reduction” in health and safety budgets and rise in site managers’ responsibilities could increase number of injuries

A report has warned of the health and safety dangers faced by construction firms as a result of the recession.

Mactavish, a research firm specialising in commercial risk and insurance, said health and safety could be compromised at firms that have carried out intensive cost-cutting.

It pointed to the “drastic reduction” in health and safety budgets at companies and said site managers’ responsibilities had also been increased.

The report said: “At least some knock-on impact on site practice compliance and injury incidence must be expected.”

The UKCG reacted angrily to the report, saying that it “totally disputed” the findings.

It said: “UKCG members remain fully committed to pushing forward the health and safety agenda in 2010.”

John Spanswick, chairman of Bovis Lend Lease, said: “We are not planning to spend less on health and safety and will continue to invest in the future.

"Health and safety is not simply about budgets it is about commitment and attitude. UKCG members remain committed to a pro-active health and safety agenda that builds and develops on the progress over the last ten years.”

The Mactavish report also warned of more liability disputes this year owing to an increase in firms embarking on joint ventures, which have increased as companies team up to increase their chances of winning work.

It also warned of the risks firms face when they take work in areas where they lack expertise, with one health and safety manager stating in the report: “Contractors are now routinely winning bids they’re not qualified to do.”