Page last updated at 09:53 GMT, Wednesday, 3 June 2009 10:53 UK

New strategy to cut work deaths

HSE cartoon poster
Posters are available explaining the myths of workplace safety

The Health and Safety Executive has appealed to businesses to help cut the number of deaths and injuries at work.

It follows research which suggested that the recession could make workplaces more dangerous.

A quarter of businesses surveyed said they faced pressure to cut spending on health and safety.

The new strategy outlined by the HSE has laid out how employees and employers can work together to minimise the risks of workplace injuries.

The Director of the HSE in Scotland, Dr Paul Stollard revealed that nearly eight out of 10 business leaders acknowledged that good health and safety standards were beneficial.

He said: "The cost of preventing accident is almost always less than the disastrous costs of an accident in both financial and human terms".

Injury figures

In 2007/08 there were 32 deaths and almost 12,000 work related injuries in Scotland.

In the survey carried out for the HSE, more than half of Scotland's workers knew someone who had been injured at work or been made ill by their job.

As part of the new strategy, the HSE stressed that safe workplaces tend to be more productive companies.

The Executive said the most effective way to improve health and safety is for senior management to show leadership.

Safety excuses

Health and safety could also be used as an excuse according to the survey findings.

More than three quarters of respondents agreed that rather than risk being sued, businesses often used health and safety to stop doing something.

While HSE's efforts concentrate on clamping down on dangerous workplaces, the research highlighted the myths that still exist, with a third of employees wrongly believing that HSE bans wearing flip flops at work or children playing with conkers.

Workers in Scotland are almost twice as likely as those elsewhere in Britain to think that wearing flip flops to work is currently banned.

The new strategy was launched by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, James Purnell.

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