A new chief inspector of construction has been appointed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Heather Bryant, who is currently HSE’s divisional director for London, the East and South East, will replace Philip White at the end of March. After four years in post, Philip moves to lead another key division at HSE.

The post of chief inspector of construction is influential within HSE and the industry, and it involves heading a division of 260 specialist inspectors, policy officials and support staff.

Despite significant improvements in recent years, construction remains one of Britain’s most dangerous industries – 49 people were killed and 2,884 seriously injured in 2011/12.

Heather Bryant said: “Construction is one of Britain’s most important industries and employs a huge number of people. All of those people have a basic right to return home safe and well from their day’s work. To its credit, the sector has already been making good progress in reducing the number of people killed, injured or made unwell by its activities. We must continue that momentum, working with others to be part of the solution. I am looking forward to working with the whole industry to ensure that progress continues and our regulations are properly focused on dealing with real risks, not needless process and paperwork.”

Philip White said: “It’s been a privilege to hold the post of chief inspector of construction for four years. During my time in the post I’ve had the pleasure of working with a huge range of different people. I am pleased to be handing over to Heather, who has extensive operational experience and a deep personal commitment to safety and health. Heather will lead a construction industry team that works diligently and with determination to ensure the health and safety of workers in this sector.”