Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted last week in favor of a five-year strategy to reduce accidents at work through a range of measures, including financial incentives, according to a report by Personnel Today.

The UK government now has to report back to the European Parliament on how it will implement the policy, which calls for tax and public sector procurement enticements.

“This strategy calls for a carrot-and-stick regime, so companies with good health and safety records should have preference in state tenders, and member states should look at giving them tax rebates,” said Glenis Willmott, an MEP who drafted the EU policy.

Tougher sanctions are also proposed for firms with poor safety records as the EU bids to reduce workplace accidents by 25 percent over five years.

“One person dies in the EU every three-and-a-half minutes in a workplace accident. People have to be held accountable,” said Willmott.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, which represents health and safety professionals, backed the proposals saying that there is a place for economic incentives to encourage better occupational safety and health performance, according to the report.

Richard Jones, director of technical affairs for IOSH, cautioned that there would be a “need for checks in the system to ensure that organizations are not simply under-reporting injuries and ill health to enhance their performance record.”

The EU policy also calls for tougher laws on working hours for pregnant women, flexibility for aging workers and a new directive on musculoskeletal disorders.