Construction worker deaths are up by 28% on last year and 1 in 3 refurbishment sites inspected put staff's lives at risk says the Health and Safety Executive.
The HSE carried out over 1500 inspections on construction sites in June and July resulting in enforcement action on 426 occasions.
'We stopped work on site immediately during 244 inspections because we felt there was a real possibility that life would be lost or ruined through serious injury' said Stephen Williams, the HSE's head of construction.
'It is completely unacceptable that so many lives have been put at risk. Our inspectors were appalled at the apparent willingness to ignore basic safety precautions. The simple fact is that despite knowing what they should be doing, too many people are prepared to allow bad practices to continue'.
Last year 77 people working in the construction industry died trying to do their jobs. This figure relates to the period April 1 2006 to March 30, 2007 and is up 28% on the previous year.
The HSE had hoped this year would continue the downward trend in construction deaths witnessed in the last 10 years, a decade which improved upon the 100 deaths a year stats seen in the Nineties.
'This year's figure is very distressing for all concerned and is something we will be trying to address with the new head of state and stakeholders to see how we can bring these figures back down' said a spokesman for HSE today.
Peter Hain MP, Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions will hold a forum to look at the number of fatalities in the construction industry.
Reducing the number of injuries and deaths from trips and falls is a priority for HSE to help the construction industry meet its accident target by 2010.
'We are determined to tackle this issue head on and will continue to take enforcement action against those rogues who flout safety precautions. Let me be clear to all those who put lives at risk - we will continue to carry out further inspections and will take all action necessary to protect workers, including closing sites and prosecution'.
Stephen Williams 'My advice to those who work in the refurbishment sector is to plan work, use competent workers and if working at height use the right equipment and use it safely'.
Work at height remains the biggest concern. Even a height of two metres can kill a man depending on how he falls, what he hits on the way down and what he lands on. Over half of the enforcement action taken during this inspections was against dangerous work at height, which last year led to the death of 23 workers.
The HSE confirmed that inspectors will continue to target falls and trips in the refurbishment sector as part of their ongoing work.