Construction is to be singled out for special attention as part of the government’s Revitalising Health and Safety initiative.

Deputy prime minister John Prescott launched his 10-point strategy and 44-point action plan to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries in the workplace on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the DETR said: “The construction industry has one of the highest accident rates of any sector, and we will be targeting it for special attention.”

He added: “The DETR will be pushing for funds to be made available for training more safety representatives.”

Specific targets across all industry sectors include a 10% reduction in the number of deaths and major injury accidents by 2010.

The action plan includes proposals to introduce tougher penalties, including possible imprisonment for health and safety offences.

The plan also proposes the removal of Crown immunity and the introduction of a director’s code of practice that would mean a named person was responsible for health and safety.