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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 2 January, 2003, 07:36 GMT
Workplace safety 'neglected'
Girls in an office
Are workplaces as safe as they look?
Employers have been urged to make workplaces safer after research suggested thousands of people suffer serious injuries every year.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) said injuries caused by slipping at work cost the UK economy 1.1bn a year.

But it said many of these could be avoided by firms if they carried out regular risk assessments.

"Too many employers are ducking the issue, leaving their staff vulnerable to a painful fall, often leading to time off work," said the TUC general secretary Brendan Barber.

Slip-up

A survey by the union's health and safety representatives looked at 800 workplaces, and found 15,000 incidents in these places alone.

The union said most were likely to be injured by slipping because of obstructions or substances left on floors.

It said 9,000 people suffer broken bones and other serious injuries every year after falling at work.

Mr Barber blamed employers who had forgotten "old fashioned" hazards, in favour of more fashionable workplace issues such as stress.

Pay the price

Failing to provide adequate safety precautions could cost UK businesses dearly.

Last month, the UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed there had been a 40% increase in the average fine for companies prosecuted over poor healthy and safety practises.

The HSE said the rise in fines reflected the serious view courts were now taking of workplace safety.

The TUC is now calling for more publicity on the potential dangers of something as innocuous as slipping at work.

It uses the example of an occupational therapy assistant who had to have her leg amputated below the knee after slipping on wet leaves on hospital steps, then slipping on a wet floor.

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18 Nov 02 | Business
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