The Health and Safety Executive is to launch a construction occupational health pilot scheme in an attempt to cut the cost of work-related illnesses.
The scheme is likely to be run by a private consortium, to be appointed by an HSE advisory group.

Kevin Myers, HSE chief inspector of construction, said: "The aim of the scheme is to provide a framework of support for construction employers, encouraging them to adopt best practice occupational health management activities, and to preserve and protect the health of their employees."

The HSE last week agreed to set up an advisory group to drive the scheme forward.

This body will be required to raise £1.3m for the scheme and decide which company will do the job.

The concept of creating a national occupational health scheme was suggested during the Tackling Health Risks in Construction Conference in 2000.

The scheme is likely to include free advice on health issues and on-site risk assessment.

Andy Sneddon, health and safety director of the Construction Confederation, described it as an opportunity to advance the effective management of health issues.

He said: "Lack of understanding of the ill-health effects of construction is a major obstacle in the industry."