The largest firm of solicitors acting for injury victims called on the insurance industry to stop whinging and instead join with trade unions and their lawyers in campaigning for improved health and safety at work.

Thompsons, the UK's largest specialist personal injury and trade union law firm, accused the British Insurance Brokers' Association of putting profit before safety by calling for changes in the law on employers' liability insurance.

While Thompsons welcomes BIBA's acknowledgement that better health and safety and risk assessments will reduce companies exposure to compensation claims for injury and disease(something the unions have been saying for years) reducing or removing employers' obligations will only result in injury victims losing out.

Safe working environments must be operated

Tom Jones, a partner at Thompsons, said: "It is entirely disingenuous for BIBA to talk of employers being unable to afford insurance premiums due to an increase in litigation, ambulance chasers and record-breaking awards. The insurance industry has produced no proof of any of this and  as the insurance industry knows the UK legal system requires fault to be proved by the claimant. No compensation is payable if fault cannot be proved in a court.

"BIBA's claim that when employers' liability insurance was introduced court awards were lower and asbestosis was unheard of is nonsense. When the EL Act was passed in 1969 of course court awards were lower, but so were insurance premiums and the cost of employing staff. As for asbestosis, its dangers have been well known to employers and insurers since the turn of the 20th century and they have sought to avoid their obligations to the workers they have killed or whose health has been ruined ever since.

"It's time the insurance industry stopped hiding the true reason for increasing premiums - protecting their profits - and recognised that the only way to avoid claims is to operate safe working environments. If they fail to do so then employers and their insurers, not the government, must be responsible for the consequences."