Labour MPs raised the issue during a debate on construction health and safety in Parliament this week.
Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn said: “The story is doing the rounds at present that unannounced inspections at construction sites will be scrapped altogether.”
But minister Steve Webb said: “I am happy to confirm on the record that there is no intention to stop unannounced inspections in construction and indeed the HSE will be paying greater attention to smaller sites, where we fully recognise that there are still poorer standards.”
The minister did concede that the number of unannounced swoops could fall as a result of cost cuts and the HSE is believed to be bracing itself for a 35% drop in surprise visits.
Webb revealed figures from the HSE’s latest national inspection campaign which showed that during the last month, 1,200 visits led to enforcement notices being issued on 254 sites.