Personal injury lawyers are concerned that safety standards in workplaces will be hit by the collapse of Independent Insurance.

The concerns were prompted by the move by Independent's panel of solicitors to pursue policyholders for fees owed, rather than the liquidators.

Many of the cases where lawyers are looking to recoup their fees are employers' liability ones and the secretary of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), Mark Harvey, has warned that health and safety standards may fall.

“If solicitors continually chase the company, it will use it as an excuse to cut back on health and safety measures in the workplace and the situation becomes even more dangerous. The workforce will inevitably suffer,” he said.

This view was echoed by Lawrence Waterman of safety consultancy Sypol. He said safety was often a target for cutbacks when money was tight.

He said: “Historically, experience shows it is one of the areas companies look to make savings when they are in financial difficulties.”

But this was a short-sighted attitude, as one serious accident would outweigh any savings made, he said.