Contractor Mowlem has defended its safety record following a BBC programme that highlighted safety lapses at one of its sites.

The documentary, Dying for Work, part of the BBC2 series First Sight, was shown on 5 October and examined construction’s poor safety record.

It included interviews with the widow of a steel worker who was killed while working on the extension of the Imperial War Museum in 1998, and a pipe fitter who was injured at Balfour Beatty’s Woolgate Exchange project. Another worker on the site died in a similar accident.

One sequence filmed with a secret camera at a Mowlem site in Stratford, east London, highlighted a number of large uncovered and unfenced holes. Workers were walking around the site while demolition was going on above them, and machinery was shown unattended.

Mowlem company secretary John Woodward, who appeared on the programme, conceded that the footage showed some situations where safety procedures were not being followed, but declined to comment further.

In a statement, Mowlem said the programme had showed the site in an “unrepresentatively bad light”.

The statement said: “The site was the scene of demolition being undertaken by a well respected contractor and the precautions in place were not fully capable of appreciation from the footage shown in the programme. The making of the programme clearly involved placing people in locations on the site which were not available to workers obeying the health and safety protocol for the site. This in itself constitutes an unnecessary exposure to danger for Mowlem.” Mowlem said the Health and Safety Executive had visited the site after being sent the film and had indicated that no action would be taken.

However, the HSE told Building it had not yet made a decision on whether to take action against Mowlem. It is understood that a meeting will take place between HSE and the demolition contractor, Sussex firm P Allison and Sons.

P Allison was unavailable for comment.