The Health and Safety Executive will be focusing on smaller companies and smaller sites, according to new guidance from chief construction inspector Philip White.
Introducing the document, Mr White (pictured) said the change was a response to improvements to site safety made by major contractors which had not been mirrored elsewhere in the industry.
He said: “Over the next 12 months we will be devoting more of our time and effort to regulating smaller sites and businesses and at the same time evolving our approach to larger contractors.
“We want to utilise our resources more effectively so that we concentrate on helping small businesses and on dealing with serious breaches of health and safety law.
“We need to find new ways to help SMEs understand and meet their obligations in a proportionate way.”
The HSE will continue to visit larger sites to investigate accidents and complaints, Mr White said. But there will be fewer visits overall as large contractors are challenged at board level.
He added: “Economic uncertainty is still affecting the construction industry, though some sectors show signs that they may be beginning to emerge from recession.
“As the industry deals with these uncertainties it is paramount that health and safety is not ignored or sidelined.”
The plan sets out the HSE’s work for the next 12 months and outlines its direction for the next three years.
As part of the change in its approach to main contractors, the HSE will examine how effective directors and other senior management are at leading the way on health and safety.
And it will respond to last year’s high number of fatalities during temporary works by promoting the importance of managing them and raising awareness.
In the field of renewable energy, inspectors will pay particular attention to safety management during the construction of onshore wind farms.
They will also target solar capture equipment to ensure the risks associated with installing photovoltaic and solar heating technology are controlled, especially on small sites.