Health and safety minister Alan Meale this week described the safety record of the construction industry as disgraceful.

Meale’s comments were made at the launch of the Health and Safety Commission’s “Working Well Together” campaign.

Meale said: “The industry has an ugly side. The industry safety record is the worst of any in the UK. It’s disgraceful, and it’s time to put a stop to the carnage.

“I am determined to see construction improve its record. I mean business. Health and safety must become second nature, not a second thought.” Meale’s comments drew an irritated response from Construction Confederation chairman Alan Crane, who was sharing the platform with the minister. He said: “There’s a lot we need to do to change the industry, but we’re not all bad. We knock ourselves too much. A lot of companies invest time and money in improving the industry.

However, construction union UCATT general secretary George Brumwell said of Crane’s comments: “I suppose he had to say something, but I’m tired of fine words from employers. What I want to see is some positive action on site safety.” TUC general secretary John Monks said casualisation was largely to blame for the industry’s poor safety record as it meant few workers received proper training.