Less than one in 10 people made ill or injured by their work ever receive any compensation from the state or from their employers, according to a TUC report.
The TUC claims the report shatters the myth that the UK is gripped by a compensation culture.
The report says that every year about 850,000 people suffer an accident or develop a disease as a result of their job, but no more than 80,000 receive any compensation from their employer or from the state for their pain and suffering.
Every year 60,000 injured or ill workers apply for assistance under the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Industrial Injuries Benefits Scheme, but fewer than half the claimants are successful and most successful claims receive no cash payout.
The cost of compensation for work-related disease and injury is dwarfed by the costs borne by workers and their families, says the report. An analysis of official and insurance industry statistics reveals that the annual cost of compensation payouts under common law and industrial injuries benefit is less than £1.5bn, yet the costs to the victims and their dependents is estimated at possibly as much as 10 times that, at between £10.1bn and £14.7bn in 2001/2.
Although six-figure compensation payouts make the headlines, these are extremely rare says the report, with the average compensation claim standing at just £10,000, the TUC said. When legal fees and admin costs are taken into account, it is unlikely that the average claimant will even see half this.
TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, said some employers and commentators claim that the UK is caught up in a compensation-culture frenzy but the reality was very different.
“Workers are losing out on billions of pounds, yet many of them may never work again,” he said. “The UK’s current compensation system needs a complete overhaul to give injured and ill workers better and quicker access to justice.
“But the way to end the UK’s disposable worker culture is not higher and more compensation payouts, it’s for more employers to take their health and safety responsibilities more seriously.”