Fears raised that construction issues may be sidelined if health and safety comes under transport umbrella.
The construction industry was split this week over whether industrial health and safety should be covered by the Department for Transport.

A government review is assessing which departments should be responsible for which aspects of health and safety after last week's Cabinet reshuffle. In the meantime, safety comes under the transport portfolio, which was separated from local government and the regions when the DTLR was split up.

Susannah Nichol, director of health and safety at the Construction Confederation, has expressed concern that construction health and safety may lose its identity within the new transport department.

"The main focus of transport health and safety is on dangers to the public; what needs to be safeguarded is construction's emphasis on protecting workers."

She added that health and safety in construction had recently made significant progress and that Whitehall needed to keep a sharp focus on it if that trend was to continue.

However, Bob Blackman, national officer for construction at union T&G, said the industry would benefit from being part of transport. He said: "If construction health and safety is given more funds to tackle problems then the Department for Transport's profile can only be a good thing for the industry."

Blackman added that transport is also a natural home for construction safety because so many construction firms now work in the transport sector, although he added that many firms were taking bad safety habits with them to the rail industry.

An insider at the Health and Safety Commission also welcomed the move and said he expected the portfolio to remain there.

He said: "As safety in transport has been so prominent recently, the affiliation of safety at work issues to the transport department raises the importance and recognition of safety in construction."