The plans were detailed in a leaked letter obtained by the BBC’s File on Four programme as the HSE finds ways of trimming its budget by 35% following Government spending cuts.
Alan Ritchie, General Secretary of construction union Ucatt said: “These cuts will kill.
“In construction large numbers of employers simply ignore safety laws. The only thing which compels them to keep workers safe is the fear of a knock on the door from the HSE.
“If you remove that deterrent deaths will increase.”
A recent blitz of unannounced safety visits by the HSE has seen one in four sites served with enforcement notices for safety breaches.
Most problems were found on sites run by smaller contractors in the refurbishment sector.
It is understood that HSE chief executive Geoffrey Podger is proposing that face to face contact by inspectors is replaced by web based initiatives.
Ritchie said: “The soflty, softly approach has been proven to be a failure.
“If companies don’t care about safety, then a glossy leaflet or a flashy website is not going to change their mind. Particularly if they know that it will not be followed up by inspections and a prosecution.
“While this leaked letter will focus much of the attention on the HSE, we must remember that the real villains are the Government.
“Cutting the HSE’s budget by over a third shows that they have never worked in a dangerous workplace and simply don’t care about workers safety.”