The health and Safety Executive's construction division is to toughen up its stance on government construction projects as part of its drive to reduce fatalities and serious injuries 40% by 2004.
In a summary of its annual work plan, the division announced its intention to carry out site inspections of projects sponsored by the government. Ministries and agencies with projects to be targeted include the Ministry of Defence, London Underground, Highways Agency and Network Rail.

The HSE's construction division was formed in April 2002. In its first year, it worked with the Office of Government Commerce to ensure that procurement guidelines for eight government sponsors of construction work took health and safety into account.

This year's inspections will judge whether these management strategies are matched by best practice safety policies on site.

Speaking at the plan's launch, the division's principal inspector Richard Boland said that government procurement had been scrutinised at head office level. "We are now moving down the supply chain and will target government-sponsored projects to see if the new strategies they have approved are in place."

HSE chief inspector Kevin Myers added: "Although the government is a significant procurer of construction, there is definitely room for improvement in its performance as a client."