Over a fifth of accidents in the food industry go unreported according to a survey of its members carried out by the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU).

62% of food workers who responded to the survey had, had an accident at work however alarmingly over a fifth of these (21%) went unreported to management, suggesting that there is a cohort of injured food workers not captured in official safety statistics.

When asked why they hadn’t reported the accident, one respondent stated: “I was worried about being punished by management”.

The shocking survey results also show that management attitudes to health and safety were negative in 27% of workplaces, with issues such as oil and water leaks and machinery operating without safety guards cited as ‘not being fixed until after an accident happened’.

Ian Hodson, National President of the BFAWU said: “There appears to be a problem across the industry. It’s an indictment of poor management if 20% of the workplaces our members work in has in their view a poor approach to health and safety. Add to that there appears to be massive under-reporting of accidents because people are scared of reprimand, or because management sweep known problems under the carpet. Finally, deliberate swingeing cuts to the Health and Safety Executive by a government committed to freeing employers from what they dishonestly call ‘red tape’ mean less inspections and prosecutions. Put all that together and you have a potentially lethal cocktail, a time bomb waiting to go off.

“The Government may be happy to look the other way and employers may be encouraged to think they can get away with poor health and safety, but the BFAWU won't stand idly by. Health and safety is everybody’s business, and good practice is in everybody’s interest – management and workers alike.

“Our members should know that if they encounter a health and safety issue in the workplace, the BFAWU will back them all the way.”

Tom Jones, head of policy at Thompsons Solicitors who partnered with the BFAWU on the survey said: “The results prove that under-reporting is a serious problem. Workers should feel confident to bring any health and safety concerns to their employer, and in turn management should deal with any issues appropriately, before anyone gets hurt. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the BFAWU in backing their members, providing the legal support they need if things go wrong and to challenge what isn't right."

Between April 2015 and March 2016, Thompsons Solicitors helped 280 BFAWU members to secure £991,430 in personal injury damages.