[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 27 July 2007, 06:32 GMT 07:32 UK
HSE 'failing to probe accidents'
HSE logo
The HSE investigates serious accidents in the workplace
The watchdog on workplace safety is failing to investigate hundreds of serious accidents every year because of a lack of funds, the BBC has been told.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) should investigate all workplace deaths and accidents involving serious injury.

BBC Radio 4's Face the Facts found more than 300 cases went unexamined last year. Inspectors told the programme the body was starved of government money.

But the HSE denied it lacked the resources to investigate all cases.

'Financially strangled'

On Thursday figures showed the number of workplace fatalities in the UK was at a five-year high.

In 2006/7 241 people died, compared to 215 in 2005/6.

The construction industry had the highest rate of deaths and accounted for 31% of all fatalities in 2006/7.

You could say that the HSE is a watchdog with its teeth filed down
HSE inspector

Failure to investigate a death or serious injury could mean that lessons might not be learned about how an accident happened or how to prevent it happening again.

The HSE's definition of serious injury includes most fractures, amputations, certain eye injuries, injuries resulting from burns or electric shock, loss of consciousness from lack of oxygen and any injury that requires hospital admission for more than 24 hours

One unnamed inspector told the BBC: "[The HSE] is being hamstrung. It's being financially strangled by the government and isn't able to carry out the work that it's supposed to do.

"You could say that the HSE is a watchdog with its teeth filed down."

HSE chief executive Geoffrey Podger said it had investigated about 94% of all serious workplace accidents last year but denied it lacked the resources to deal with them all.

Face the Facts is on BBC Radio 4 at 1230 BST on Friday.

Man dies in tree-cutting accident
26 Jul 07 |  Gloucestershire
Fire at UK's largest oil refinery
25 Jul 07 |  Hampshire

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific