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House builders ram home safety message

Contractors and subcontractors face safety visits in drive to cut accident levels

MAJOR house builders have joined forces to launch a charter aimed at improving health and safety.

They will meet contractors and subbies employed on house building jobs to ram home the message and encourage swapping best safety practice.

The House Builders Federation, National Housing Federation, National House-Building Council, Construction Products Association and Cabe have all committed to the new action plan in a bid to slash site accidents.

A spokesman for the House Builders Federation said: 'The industry is falling short.The house building sector has a good health and safety record compared to the construction industry as a whole.However, rather than rest on our laurels, we believe we should strive to set a benchmark for the rest of the industry.

'Our members and signatories have agreed to meet with chief executives and senior figures based at contractors and subcontractors, with which they work, to impress and encourage improvement.'

Stewart Baseley, chairman of the HBF, emphasised the need to open communications within the sector. He said:

'The charter is a commitment to share information, to exchange ideas and provide a climate where good practice can flourish.'

It is hoped the charter will play a significant part in realising the Government's commitment to bring all public sector homes up to a decent standard by 2010.

Jim Coulter, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: 'Creating a safe, modern construction industry is vital if we are to address the undersupply of new affordable homes and to achieve the Government's decent homes standard for existing housing.We need to attract and retain skilled people within construction to achieve these goals.'

The five organisations are implementing the charter with immediate affect.

The plan aims to:

Increase the consideration given to health and safety during the design phase

Engage workers with contractors, material suppliers and other employees

Increase occupational health awareness

Use accurate statistics and intelligence to target effective improvements

Protect customers, visitors and neighbours

Co-operate with others to develop and promote best practice