Firms 'ignoring deadly conditions'

Work-related ill-health

28.04.2009

Businesses in Britain are only spending a small amount of the funds needed to tackle work-related ill-health and deadly conditions in workplaces, a report claims.

Professor Rory O'Neill of Stirling University said if firms took action to deal with occupational injuries and diseases thousands of lives could be saved.

He added that while employers dislike health and safety rules, poor standards are resulting in workers being injured, falling sick or even killed.

According to the report, lax safety measures are also resulting in costs of more than £1 billion for workplace fatalities and work-related road deaths.

Professor O'Neill said businesses spending too little was the main reason why 1,000 people die in work-related fatalities each year.

He added that individuals and the public purse ending up footing the bill for occupational injuries and diseases which business had created through cost shifting.

The report coincides with International Workers Memorial Day.

David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "This latest report whilst making grim reading comes as no surprise.

"I am still seeing far too many workers injured or killed following a work accident or the contraction of a work related disease.

"In this day and age, it is not unreasonable for a worker to expect he can go to work and return at the end of day without having suffered an accident at work or contracted an industrial disease. Sadly, all too often this reasonable expectation is not met. Lack of regard to workers health and safety, often due to costs cutting is the reason.

"I am worried that the recession may result in an increase in accidents at work as employers feel unable to meet what they see as the expense of health and safety. However, accidents not only cause misery for those injured and their families, but cost employers and their insurers both directly through compensation and indirectly through damage to their reputation."