Workplace accidents and cases of ill health such as vibration white finger are costing UK industry and insurers billions every year.

A new report from the Health and Safety Executive reveals that employers are directly losing between £2.3 and £5.3 billion every year. The cost to society is even greater – between £14 and £18bn.

"An estimated two million people are believed to be suffering from an illness caused by work, and some 18 million working days are lost," said Bill Callaghan who chairs the Health and Safety Commission.

The Government has decided to inject new impetus into the issue under the slogan "Good Health is Good Business".

The initiative will be backed up with more stringent enforcement of health and safety at work.