The contractor says in its annual report that the accident rate in 2002 fell nearly 35% on the previous year. Wates' promised that it would improve its health and safety procedures last July, after it was fined £4000 for offences at its London sites.
The Health and Safety Executive took the contractor to court after it launches an inspection blitz at the capital's sites. Kier London was also fined after it pleaded guilty to breaching legislation over safety barriers.
Speaking after last summer's prosecution, Struan Robertson, Wates' chief executive, said: "Despite our efforts to achieve the highest standards of health and safety, on this occasion we failed."
The company recorded its highest pre-tax profit for more than a decade in the 12 months to 31 December. Pre-tax profit rose 9% on 2001 to £9.7m. Turnover increased 10% to £504.5m.
Chairman Andrew Wates predicted that the company would turn in a strong performance in 2003. He said: "The outlook for 2003 is positive in spite of the weakening commercial office market and a softening of the residential sector. Growth continues in our social housing, public sector, PFI and retail sectors."
The outlook for 2003 is positive in spite of the office market
Wates chairman, Andrew Wates
Robertson said that the company's improved performance was largely the fruits of a restructuring that started in 2000.
The company has three divisions dealing with separate markets: the private sector, the public sector and residential development work. These are headed by managing directors Martin Tidd, Dave Smith and Paul Phipps.
The restructuring will continue with the retirement of chief operating officer, Rod Bennion, next month.
Richard Girdlestone will become group construction director, leaving his post as managing director of the commercial and inner city residential sector. The role of the group commercial director, now held by Martyn Shepherd, will also be beefed up.