An internal candidate has been named as chief inspector for construction at the Health and Safety Executive

The winning candidate is Philip White, who is on secondment at the Department for Work and Pensions. He was previously the HSE’s head of operations for construction in London, and east and south-east England.

He will replace Stephen Williams, who is to leave in January to take up the newly created post of director of field operations for London and the Olympics.

The HSE had not publicly confirmed the appointment as Building went to press, but it was understood that staff had been told about the appointment.

White has headed up the Department for Work and Pensions health and safety sponsorship team since 2005.

Commenting on the appointment, White said: "I am delighted to be taking on this important position at such a challenging time. I look forward to working with the industry and trades unions in bringing about further improvements in health and safety. There’s still much to be done. That said, I’m encouraged by the progress made since the Construction Summit in 2001.

“I believe that further improvements will only be made by industry showing leadership, by working in partnership and taking ownership of the management of risk and holding to account those who don’t effectively control the risks they create.

“2009 is also a key year for shaping the strategy for HSE, having just launched its three-month consultation period so I am particularly excited to be joining at a time when energising the future of the HSE is moving forward.”

Philip white was the HSE’s head of operations for construction in London, the east and the south-east

Meanwhile, a new health and safety umbrella organisation has been announced for the industry.

The Safety Schemes in Procurement Competence Forum (SSIP) will come into being in April 2009. John Murphy, chair of the forum, said its intention was to create a common standard for health and safety prequalification based on CDM regulations. This would be recognised across the industry so as to reduce bureaucracy and duplication.

The initiative will bring together schemes by the Construction Confederation, Specialist Engineering Contactors Group and Constructionline.

Williams said reducing paperwork at the prequalification stage was the “main driver” of the move and that it would provide confidence to small clients and businesses procuring construction work.

“Clients can be assured those they are appointing meet a standard of competence at the first stage,” he said.

Peter O’Connell, policy manager at the Federation of Master Builders, said: “The savings of this new scheme, in time and money, could be massive.”