The Health and Safety Executive has admitted that plans for a national occupational health scheme for the construction industry could be shelved because of lack of money.
Industry leaders came to an agreement with the HSE in March to proceed with plans to establish a consortium that would run the scheme and raise funds for pilots.

However, a Health and Safety Commission progress report has disclosed that the trials may not be able to get off the ground because of a lack of funding.

The report, which has been seen by Building, says that the HSE has paid for an audit of fundraising methods and remained committed to funding the evaluation of the pilot scheme, but also notes that "although the project has progressed significantly in recent months, if the fundraising efforts fail, the pilot scheme will not go ahead".

An industry action forum set up to provide funds is to review the issue. It includes representatives from UCATT, the Federation of Masters Builders, the Association of British Insurers, the Construction Industry Training Board and the Construction Confederation.

The one issue that the HSE progress report cites as being pivotal to the success of the scheme is long-term funding.

If fundraising efforts fail, the pilot scheme will not go ahead

HSE progress report

It says: "Securing long-term funding for a national construction occupational health scheme is a key issue that will have to be addressed."

The report adds that over the next few months the forum will concentrate on identifying preferred bidders to run the pilot, talking to potential fundholders and exploring in more detail alternative options for raising funds.

One insider said that while the industry was forthcoming with verbal support for the scheme there was a lack of commitment to putting money towards it.

The insider said: "The HSE has done its bit, it has paid to get us this far. It is now up to the industry to pay for the actual pilots themselves."

HSE chief construction inspector Kevin Myers said that the HSE had continued to provide financial and practical support for the pilot and was encouraged by the level of interest and enthusiasm that had been shown by the industry-led action forum.