Industry and HSE plan conference as National Audit Office criticises designers, inspectors and government
The Strategic Forum and the Health and Safety Executive are planning to organise a safety summit early next year as fears are raised that the industry will miss its target for cutting deaths and injuries on site.

These targets were set at a crisis summit in February 2001, called in response to a rapid rise in site deaths in the preceding year.

That meeting, which was attended by deputy prime minister John Prescott, agreed that the industry would try to reduce deaths and serious injuries 40% by 2005 and 66% by 2010.

Kevin Myers, the HSE's chief construction inspector, said the summit would assess the industry's progress since the 2001 conference.

The targets the industry set for itself at the 2001 safety summit are unlikely to be met

National Audit Office report

He said: "The idea is to have a follow up progress conference of industry leaders to see where we are in terms of meeting the targets that were set for reducing accidents and site deaths."

He added that the summit would look at where the industry could make improvements over the next three years and would establish the successful safety initiatives that the industry had introduced.

The National Audit Office has this week published a report on the progress made by the construction division of the HSE.

This found that there has been a 5% reduction in deaths and injuries in the construction industry since 2001 but noted: "The targets the industry set for itself at the 2001 health and safety summit for reducing deaths and major injuries are unlikely to be met and can be measured only in part."

The NAO office report singled out designers for failing to comply with the CDM Regulations. It said: "Some designers erroneously believe that they do not have any duties towards the health and safety of construction workers."

The report added that government bodies could do more to improve the safety of workers. It noted: "Some public sector bodies sponsoring construction projects focus too much on the lowest price in a tender evaluation."

Sir John Bourn, the NAO's comptroller and auditor general, said the HSE had more impact when it supplemented site inspections with a national blitz that focused on one issue, such as falls.