Peter Hain said he would not accept a boom in building at the cost of “the blood of construction workers” in an impassioned speech to the TUC in Brighton.

Underlining his commitment to addressing the industry’s safety record ahead of his summit with the industry and the Health and Safety Executive on Monday, the work and pensions secretary said: “I will not tolerate an increase in construction deaths. Booming housebuilding, yes; booming infrastructure, yes; but not with the blood of workers in the foundations.”

Hain said he hoped the summit would force action. He said: “This will not be a talking shop. It must deliver an urgent plan to reverse the macabre toll of rising death and injury.”

He also attacked John Redwood, a former Tory cabinet minister, for his call last month to review the Health and Safety at Work Act. “He wants to water down the act, abolishing protection for working people,” he said.

Hain also promised to save Remploy, the furniture manufacturer under threat of closure (7 September, page 24), after the GMB union condemned Remploy’s plan to shut 32 factories.