Risk assessment is an important part of insurance solutions. Phil Wright says engineering insurers are now increasingly offering this added-value Government plans to reduce workplace injuries and illness absence will fail if there is no legal duty on employers to plan rehabilitation services, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has warned.

In a report called “Revitalising Health and Safety”, the government and the Health and Safety Commission announced joint plans to reduce workplace sickness and injury absence by 30% by 2010.

However, TUC senior policy officer, Owen Tudor, who launched the TUC's own “Restoring to Health, Returning to Work” report, said rehabilitation was the missing link between employers' legal duties to prevent illness and injury and pay compensation when they failed.

“Even good employers aren't providing rehabilitation to their workers as a matter of course, so it's no surprise that 19 million days of work are lost because of workplace injuries and illness,” Tudor said.

“Rehabilitation could slash that enormous loss of talent and productivity and make a real difference to the 25,000 people consigned to a life on benefits every year by workplace injury.”

The TUC has called on the government to use the forthcoming Safety Bill to put a legal duty on employers to develop a rehabilitation policy as part of the safety policy they are already required to have.

Meanwhile, TUC general secretary John Monks has demanded firm action on workplace deaths. He said the government's planned action with construction employers was desperately needed.

“The need for a new act to revitalise health and safety, with more inspectors for the Health and Safety Executive and a new law against corporate killing, couldn't be starker,” Monks said.

“Employers should drop their ideological objections to the roving safety reps who could solve so many problems and protect so many lives.”