The central message from the government at this week's safety summit was clear: start cutting the number of deaths and accidents or face legislation.
Deputy prime minister John Prescott, who was earlier besieged by relatives of dead workers, told the 700 delegates at the meeting in Whitehall that it was no longer sufficient to talk about what could be done.

Prescott announced plans to reduce deaths and serious injuries by 40% by 2004/5 and by two-thirds by the end of the decade. Other speakers pledged to have a fully accredited workforce by the end of next year and increase partnership between workers and employers.

The government pledged to only use firms with good health and safety records and to require its departments to publish their own safety records following the news that a 26-year-old construction worker died on a site in Westminster on Monday.

The worker was refurbishing a church when a brick structure collapsed on top of him.

An inquest into the death of a worker, who died after falling from scaffolding in May last year, was also held on Tuesday. A verdict of accidental death was returned on Eddie Munnelly, 53.

Health and Safety Commission chair Bill Callaghan held a minute's silence at the start of the summit after delegates had watched a video featuring construction workers injured on sites and the relatives of dead workers.