Peter Hain, the work and pensions secretary, personally telephoned industry bodies to press the need for improvements in safety before the summit he chaired in September, it has emerged.
Hain, whose department oversees the Health and Safety Executive, has made lowering construction’s casualty rate a personal crusade. The bodies he contacted included the Construction Confederation and the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
It is understood the move was aimed at building personal relationships with industry leaders, in an indication that Hain intends to keep close watch on the industry.
Brian Berry, head of external affairs at the FMB, said: “This is a much more personal approach than we saw from John Prescott [who chaired a safety summit in 2001]. He says he wants to keep tabs on the situation.”
A Strategic Forum task group is due to meet Hain in December to review progress on the targets agreed at the summit, including proposals that all workers in housebuilding should carry a CSCS card.
Berry added that the FMB and other industry bodies were considering lobbying for the HSE to have greater funding.
Hain called the industry’s safety summit in response to the “unacceptable” level of deaths and accidents in the industry, particularly in the housing and refurbishment sectors.