Nearly one in three refurbishment sites seriously endangers workers’ lives, the Health and Safety Executive has claimed.

The executive inspected more than 1,500 sites in June and July, and brought work to an immediate halt on 244 occasions, owing to dangerous conditions. It made 426 orders in total over the two months. More than half were against dangerous work at height.

Stephen Williams, the HSE’s head of construction, said: “Our inspectors were appalled at the willingness to ignore safety precautions. Despite knowing what they should be doing, many people allow bad practices to continue.”

The figures emerged days before Peter Hain’s health and safety forum to tackle negligence in the refurbishment and housebuilding sectors. On Monday, the work and pensions minister will meet industry figures to discuss what can be done to lower their sector’s high fatality rates. Refurbishment, repair and maintenance sites saw 39 fatalities last year.

Recently contractor Rokbuild was fined £175,000 for an accident that left a worker paralysed.