The TUC is calling on councils to reverse a decline in the number of health and safety inspectors employed by local authorities.
The move follows a 15 per cent rise in workplace injuries in the service sector – the sector councils are responsible for – even though rates have been falling across the economy as a whole.
At the same time, says the TUC, the number of inspectors has fallen by 360 (24 per cent).
The most recent figures available show 30,000 service-sector employees suffered serious injuries in 1998-9 including amputations, broken limbs and loss of sight. The sector includes call centres, shops and banks.
TUC general secretary John Monks said, "Six years ago a bank or supermarket could expect a visit from a council inspector once every three years. Now the same employer could wait four years for a safety visit, and the problem is set to get much worse."
By Helen Rowe