Kier and Wates hauled in front of magistrates alongside small firms as part of strategy of embarrassment.
The Health and Safety Executive is taking nine companies, including Kier and Wates, to court on the same day next week after a safety blitz suggested that unsafe site practices were rife on London sites.

In a groundbreaking move, the HSE may submit as evidence video footage collected by inspectors when they visited the sites.

The hearings, to be held next Wednesday at the City of London magistrates' court, are the result of a wave of inspections carried out by the HSE in May.

The other contractors in the dock are Mitie Property Services, HG Construction, Prendy Scaffolding, McKenna Demolition, ES Roberts Roofing, Charles R McInnes and St George Scaffolding and Cradling.

An HSE insider said the aim was to bring large contractors to court alongside smaller contractors to make them realise that safety is a priority on sites of all sizes.

He said that if the safety standards of major contractors could be improved by embarrassing them in court alongside small and one-man firms, then it could only be a good thing.

A decision has not been taken yet whether to use video footage in court

HSE spokesperson

The insider said: "Video evidence has been used in court before to record a site after an incident, but it is now being considered whether to use footage taken by our inspectors during the London safety blitz."

An HSE spokesperson confirmed that video footage was collected during the inspections, but would not say whether it would be used as evidence.

She said: "The HSE solicitors are still deciding whether to use video footage; it is admissible but no decision has been taken yet whether to use it."

Building first revealed in March that the HSE was planning to target building sites in a year-long safety campaign beginning in April.

As part of the campaign, sites in London were targeted in May and work was stopped on nearly half of the 223 examined. Some 110 prohibition notices and 11 improvement notices were served.