Inspectors from HSE carried out checks at 2014 construction sites across the UK as part of an intensive inspection campaign.
During unannounced visits, inspectors focused on refurbishment and roofing work to ensure that any work at height was being done safely and that the sites were in good order. Some 2414 contractors were inspected during the campaign.
A total of 691 enforcement notices were issued at 470 sites, with inspectors giving orders for work to be stopped immediately in 359 instances for either unsafe work being carried out at height or where sites lacked 'good order'.
The majority of all notices issued related to unsafe work being carried out at height.
Philip White, HSE's chief inspector for construction, said: "While it is encouraging that many small construction firms have got their act together and are giving health and safety the priority it needs, the fact that our inspectors needed to take enforcement action on almost a quarter of sites, and on a similar proportion of contractors, is a matter of serious concern.
"There are still a small number of employers or contractors who continue to put their own and other people's health and safety at risk. This is unacceptable. I want to make it clear to these operators that we will not hesitate to take action where standards of health and safety are endangering workers lives and livelihoods."
During 2008/09 there were 53 deaths in construction and 11 264 injuries. Last year, inspectors visited 1759 sites, 2145 contractors and issued 491 enforcement notices during a similar month-long initiative.