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Video: HSE's Stephen Williams

The political climate is right for ‘more radical solutions’ to the construction industry’s safety problem, according to Health and Safety Executive construction chief inspector Stephen Williams.

In a video interview with, Mr Williams said: "There is the appetite there. There are a number of approaches used in Europe, from reducing the levels of subcontracting, to limiting the number of migrant workers on any one site.

"I personally would be very interested to see what the effect would be of making it mandatory for any contractor before they started trading as a construction company to attend a health and safety training course. There are a number of radical solutions that we need to debate properly in the industry.’

He also warns that the construction downturn cannot be used an excuse for paying less attention to safety.

He said: "I’ll be interested to see what the effects of the downturn will be but my message would be; Don’t be tempted to cut corners. If there was every a time to be more efficient, and safety management is just one aspect of being efficient, now is the time to really look hard at that."

In the interview, Mr Williams, who was last week named as the HSE’s new head of safety on the Olympics, outlines the main elements of new safety legislation going through Parliament and advises companies on improving their performance.

See Construction News and on Thursday for Rhiannon Hoyle's interview with Stephen Williams as part of this week’s special report on safety.