The Health and Safety Executive is to look at how changes in the design process can reduce accidents on site.

The agency is planning to ramp up its "early intervention" strategy in the coming year, involving architects and clients more fully in reducing on-site accidents.

Stephen Williams, the HSE's chief inspector of construction, said that inspectors could arrive unannounced at architects' offices or make appointments with designers before visiting. The agency will also run safety awareness days aimed specifically at designers.

He said: "We are determined to make an impact on projects before they go on site … All workers are at risk from poor planning."

Williams added that early intervention in projects would allow the agency to handle the Olympics project without a big recruitment drive. "I don't envisage that we will need to strengthen our team strongly for Olympic work because we will get involved at an earlier stage."

He added, however, that the new strategy would not mean the end of on-site inspections and investigations.

We are determined to make an impact before projects go to site

Stephen Williams, HSE

News of the shift in focus came as Williams predicted the number of construction deaths in the current year would be among the lowest on record.

He said that the total figure of 71 deaths in 2004/05 was likely to be improved on this year, but added: "One fatality is one fatality too many."

The HSE is also planning to focus its efforts on small and medium-sized firms that have no experience of the sophisticated health and safety practices of bigger companies.