Chief construction inspector Kevin Myers given new powers to oversee crackdown on site safety.
The Health and Safety Executive will target building sites in a year-long safety campaign starting in April.

The blitz is part of a concerted, nationally co-ordinated plan to improve the industry's safety record. Kevin Myers, who has been given added powers as the HSE's chief construction inspector will oversee the campaign, in which inspectors reporting directly to him will launch a crackdown on a particular region.

Myers said that plans had been considered to have every inspector in the country scrutinising sites at the same time, but it was felt that it would be better to concentrate on particular areas month by month.

He said: "Inspectors will be looking at priority issues, including falls from heights, slips and trips, workplace transport and muscular conditions."

He added that the decision to launch the campaign was part of the HSE's plans for the year, including a health and safety week in October that will focus on workplace stress.

Myers, who takes on his enhanced role next month, will oversee construction site inspectors throughout the country. An HSE spokesman said that inspectors would report to Myers from next month rather than to regional directors. The new head of the construction sector, Mike Cosman, who will also report to Myers, took up his post last week.

Too many yellow cards are issued to contractors when really there should be more red cards

UCATT leader George Brumwell

The latest provisional HSE figures for fatalities in construction show they are down 32%. Sixty-three people died between 1 April and 31 December last year, compared with 93 deaths in 2000.

UCATT general secretary George Brumwell welcomed the safety drive, but maintained that further action was necessary.

He said the HSE campaign should lead to court action against contractors rather than warnings.

Brumwell said: "Too many yellow cards are issued to contractors to improve, when really there should be more red cards handed out and action taken."

  • Decisions on two high-profile HSE accident investigations are close to being concluded. A case brought against Galliford Hodgson has been adjourned by City of London magistrates to 11 April after a hearing in March. The contractor is accused of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act, after Martin Carshack, 12, fell to his death from scaffolding in east London. Galliford is considering its plea.

    Safety campaigns: the record so far

    October 2000
    Health and Safety Executive carries out checks on scaffolding contractors in central London, leading to the closure of 16 sites
    August 2001
    HSE carries out a safety blitz after death of a site worker in Coleraine, Northern Ireland
    September 2001
    Unions lead a joint safety campaign on London sites, including Canary Wharf
    March 2002
    HSE stops work on 20 sites in Bournemouth and Poole, Dorset, after a two-day scrutiny of South Coast sites