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Alert at tribute to dead workers; SERVICE: Warning over recession-hit bosses cutting corners on safety.

Byline: Alison Dayani

WARNINGS that the recession could lead to more dangerous working environments were issued at a service to mark Workers Memorial Day.

Kathy Gaffney, secretary of West Midlands Hazards Trust, said the credit crunch could lead to firms cutting corners and putting workers' lives at risk as she remembered the thousands killed or injured at work.

Around 100 people gathered at St Philip's Churchyard, in Birmingham city centre, on Tuesday, to lay wreaths following a service led by Canon Liturgist at Birmingham Cathedral, Janet Chapman.

There were 229 people killed at work in the UK last year, of which more than 70 were in the construction industry. And 18 were in the West Midlands.

Ms Gaffney said: "In a recession, the situation is that much worse.

"The National Accident Helpline survey found that 62 per cent of workers said their employers were cutting corners on health and safety. Workers are the ones who will suffer in a recession.

"The queues for the most dangerous jobs are getting longer, but road deaths and suicides caused because they have lost their job or suffered financial hardship aren't being counted in the Health and Safety Executive figures of workplace deaths.

"If cuts are to be made, then those cuts should be from the payment perks of people at the top and not from workers' health." Philip Edwards, a workplace injuries specialist at law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: "Workers Memorial Day is a time for reflection, to remember those workers who have been killed through trying simply to earn a living.

"Most of these deaths could easily have been prevented, at least 70 per cent according to the Health and Safety Executive. Employers need to be made more accountable." In Wolverhampton, a similar ceremony saw 18 pairs of shoes laid down to remember the 18 West Midlands' workers who lost their lives last year as a result of their work..

CAPTION(S):

International Workers Memorial Day service at St Philip's Cathedral (above). Right: Janet Keen Lays a wreath in memory of her husband Raymond who died following asbestos exposure.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Apr 30, 2009
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