Public sector workers could be put at risk of injury or illness because of the government’s spending cuts, safety experts have warned.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health said cutting costs could make workplaces more dangerous, leading to longer working hours, lack of training and ageing equipment.

Cutting staff levels, combining departments and changing roles and responsibilities could lead to an increased risk of illness or injury, the government was warned.

Ministers were urged to make the wellbeing of police, social workers, civil servants and other public sector employees a top priority as departments make savings.

The institute’s chief executive Rob Strange said: “What worries us is that hard-pressed managers looking to meet targets on savings will cut corners when safeguarding the health and safety of their staff.

“The dangers posed by cost-cutting to people involved in delivering or using public services are hidden behind all the talk of how fast and by how much our country’s budget deficit is reduced.

“We want the government to think about the implications of impending cutbacks on the safety, health and wellbeing, not only of the people it employs, but of the people who use its services.”