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Businesses have been warned to ensure that contractors and workers carry out risk assessments and operate safe systems of work.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued the call after it fined two companies after a worker lost the tips of two fingers at a paper recycling plant in Greenwich.

Loraine Charles, the HSE inspector that investigated the case, said the incident showed the importance of ensuring that employees are aware of hazards.

Her comments also suggested that the use of personal protective equipment could be beneficial.

She said: 'Risk assessments and permit-to-work systems are worthless unless companies make sure that employees are aware of what the hazards actually are and, therefore, carry out their work accordingly.'

The HSE recently also called for construction maintenance workers to ensure they take precautions to protect themselves against asbestos when working in buildings built before 2000.

According to official figures from the organisation, 20 tradesmen die a week from breathing in asbestos fibres.

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