Companies have been advised not to cut back on their health and safety expenditure in the face of worsening economic conditions.

According to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), skimping on safety could have "disastrous consequences" for organisations and workers alike.

President of the institution Ray Hurst said: "We recognise it may be tempting for firms to cut corners on health and safety to save money. But that choice will not only result in human tragedy but also have a major impact on the business’s bottom line."

He went on to warn companies about the possible fines they could incur for health and safety lapses under the new corporate manslaughter and corporate homicide laws.

According to Mr Hurst, businesses could be fined up to ten per cent of their global turnover under the legislation.

In related news, the Health and Safety Executive recently warned firms that, despite new figures revealing a fall in worker fatalities from 247 in 2006-07 to 228 in 2007-08, there is no excuse for complacency.