The HSE has reported that nearly one in five construction sites failed safety checks during its annual month-long drive to improve building site safety.
While the total number of sites failing inspection was a slight improvement on previous years, a record 870 enforcement notices were served during the campaign.
Should similar results be found next year, the cost to the construction industry is likely to be in excess of £1.5m.
The HSE intends to introduce a system for recovering the cost of enforcement activity from those who contravene regulations from October 2012.
The scheme, known as Fees for Intervention (FFI), is aimed at ensuring those who contravene the law pay for the cost of HSE enforcement activity.
Had the system been in place during the 2012 initiative, the cost to the construction sector would have been more than £1.3m based on the HSE's own estimates.
The estimated cost of an inspector's time related to an enforcement notice is £1,500.
The 870 notices served during the latest campaign was up from 735 last year.
The figures for this year's national initiative do not show how many enforcement letters or emails were issued. These are routinely issued by inspectors for contraventions not sufficiently serious to issue either an improvement or prohibition notice. The HSE estimates the cost of such letters or emails at £750 each. Next year they will be accompanied by an invoice.
With 50 fatalities in the construction industry during the year 2010/11, the construction industry is likely to find very little sympathy at having to pay these additional costs.
Whether clients will see attempts to add to the general cost of construction remains to be seen.