Deaths and injuries in the workplace
The safety watchdog is calling on businesses to "be part of the solution" to help reduce the number of deaths and injuries in the workplace.
A survey by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveals that 25% of companies are facing pressure to cut spending on safety because of the recession.
But the HSE is warning that neglecting health and safety could make some workplaces more dangerous and put more people at risk.
Figures also show that employees hugely underestimate the number of people who are killed or seriously injured each year, saying just 3,000 people were victim to work incidents when the true figure was 136,000.
In response the HSE is launching a new five-year strategy to clamp down on dangerous workplaces while maintaining business competitiveness.
HSE chair Judith Hackitt said: "HSE is not, and never will be, the fun police. Our new strategy shows the way towards a common sense attitude to health and safety.
"As regulators, our approach to businesses will be proportionate to the risk. We are calling on employers and business owners to take the lead themselves in preventing the thousands of deaths every year."
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David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "I welcome the HSEs' call for businesses not to cut corners or reduce investment when it comes to health and safety at work.
"There is a temptation for employers to reduce spending on what they might consider the expense of safety in the workplace.
"However, I would urge such employers to think carefully about the true costs of failing to make workers safe. If there is a work accident, this not only causes pain and suffering for the injured worker and distress for their family, but can be a real cost to the business. It is not just the lost productivity whilst the worker is off, but also the reputational risk and the fact that customers may choose not to place their business with those who they perceive are not looking after workers.
"I would say that good workplace safety is good business and part of the true responsibility of those running any business."