“There are world class opportunities in terms of projects but in terms of safety the region has been lagging behind. The region needs a regulatory agency and clear standards and it really is time to do it,” he told the MEED Middle East Road Infrastructure Conference in Dubai on 31 March.

Peters also called on clients to make safety specifications a clear part of contract requirements to improve site standards and ensure that bidding terms were fair.

“There should be fines and penalties for non-compliance,” he added.

Peters said new regulations could be based on UK or US standards.