URGENT action is needed to fight Britain's "claims culture" and help firms cut insurance costs, it is said.

The Huddersfield-based Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce wants the Government to help companies improve their health and safety policies - and cut the amount they pay in employers' liability insurance premiums.

They also want insurers to "name and shame" people proved to have made fraudulent claims.

Chamber members heard that the average cost to a firm of resolving a claim by an employee was about £8,000.

Ian Walker, of Huddersfield insurance brokers Wilkinson Rodgers, said some firms had been forced out of business by "unsustainable" rises in premiums.

He said firms could help reduce their premiums - and their exposure to claims - by carrying out risk assessments of their business, adopting good health and safety policies and documenting those policies and all health and safety training given to staff.

The chamber is urging the Government to beef up its Health and Safety Executive, to provide more officers able to give guidance to firms.

It also wants action to reduce the time taken to resolve claims.

And it called for a new database, to provide evidence that firms have employers' liability insurance.

Chamber member Susan Kenyon said firms needed to run a "safety culture" campaign, to highlight their commitment to health and safety - and counter the "claims culture".

Fellow member Andrew Padley said: "There is a claims culture, with employees positively encouraged to make a claim for injury.

"But a lot of companies need to put their houses in order. The insurance industry should recognise this and give diligent companies preferential terms."