The report, commissioned by the government last year and written by Rita Donaghy, the former chair of employment arbitration service Acas, recommends imposing 'positive duties' on company directors, which could lead to them being prosecuted for safety lapses.
It says: 'The time is right to introduce a clearer sign that society wishes to prevent fatalities and demands a higher standard of behaviour from those in the construction industry who do not at present follow good practice.'
says the Health and Safety at Work Act could be amended so that it imposes a duty on individual directors 'to take all reasonable steps to ensure health and safety'.
The report warns that the impact of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, which came into force in April 2008, will be 'adversely affected' because it does not spell out the 'precise responsibility' of directors.
Ms Donaghy also recommends extending the Gangmasters Licensing Authority's remit to cover the construction trade. 'The further down the sub-contracting chain one goes the less secure is the worker and the less satisfactory is the management of health and safety on site.
Society should accept that there needs to be a standard below which no construction worker should have to work,' it states.
The construction industry, says Ms Donaghy
, does not appreciate the positive role that trade unions can play and says it is a 'disgrace' there is such a low level of reporting serious accidents. 'If we had a higher proportion of reporting serious accidents, it might help us to achieve a more accurate picture about fatalities,' says the report.
Yvette Cooper, work and pensions minister, praised Ms Donaghy's
work but said the government could not comment on the recommendations at this stage.