A body representing the interests of company bosses has sparked fury by alleging that unions are not doing enough to prevent workplace deaths.

The Institute of Directors has said unions were “not as committed as they could have been” in helping executives prevent injuries to their workers.

Specifically the Institute claims that unions have not done enough to draw directors’ attention to a voluntary code of practice produced by the IoD and the Health and Safety Executive with union consultation.

The IoD says only 40 per cent of its members are aware of the existence of the voluntary code despite the fact it sent the information to all its members, who number more than 53,000.

It argues that unions have a responsibility to tell bosses about the guidelines.

The claims, made by IoD regulatory spokesman Alexander Ehmann, have been greeted with amazement by union representatives both in Bradford and nationally.

Mr Ehmann told the Telegraph & Argus: “We are trying to get guidance out to directors and are not unhappy with the way things are going.

“The guidance was written in co-operation with the unions but what happened is that everyone else involved in drafting the guidance took a responsibility for disseminating it.

“UCATT and other unions could come on board in helping spread this information. There are union members in high-risk sectors who have good dialogue with management.”

Mike Quiggin, of Bradford Trades Council, said: “It makes me speechless that directors suggest unions have been slow to give information on safety issues. Unions have been blazing a trail on this issue for years.

“The HSE has observed that 70 per cent of workplace accidents could have been avoided by management action. Time and time again studies have shown the inadequacies of management and their refusal to take their responsibilities seriously.”

Alan Ritchie, general secretary of UCATT, said: “Either the IoD is too stupid to understand the purpose of unions or they are deliberately spreading misinformation.

“It is not our role to make companies accept the code. We know that the failed voluntary code will not save the life of a single construction worker.

“UCATT does everything possible to ensure the safety of construction workers, it is an undeniable fact that many construction bosses cannot say the same.”