Firms will fork out over £2bn repairing and replacing the data on broken laptops, says Panasonic.

Based on research undertake by IDC on behalf of the laptop manufacturer, Panasonic predicts 14 percent of the 9.2 million laptops sold to UK businesses between 2007 and 2009 will suffer some form of damage.

On average, each laptop will have a repair bill of £1,576, which includes parts, as well as lost productivity and data.

"With a 14 percent chance of physical breakage per year, and a £1,576 repair and data replacement bill, IT Directors should realise that every laptop is carrying a potential hidden cost of £224 per year," said Stephen Yeo from Panasonic.

"This means that over a three year life, a laptop has a hidden cost from breakage of £672 and this could be considerably higher for workers in areas like field service or sales."

Nearly three quarters (72 percent) of UK employees whose laptops had been damaged, said the machine's keyboard had been affected, while two thirds said there had been damage to the screen.

Furthermore, the non-exposed parts most prone to damage included batteries and hard disk drives, both which had been experienced by more than half of respondents.

Dropping laptops was the biggest cause of the damage, with 72 percent admitting to being responsible for accidentially letting their machine slip from their hands, while two thirds said spilling liquid had resulted in the damaged laptop and 55 percent claimed the laptop fell off a desk or table.

Nearly two thirds (63 percent) said they experienced reduced productivity due to their damaged laptop. Furthermore, 37 percent said important company data or information had been lost after the laptop was damaged and 34 percent admitted it caused a delay in sales.

"Companies should look to procure laptops that are built to withstand a variety of rigors, not just from dust, dirt, and extremes in temperature, but also from day-to-day bumps and spills," said David Daoud, IDC research director for personal computing.

"Companies should look for laptops in which key components like keyboards and displays have been hardened, while insuring that the integrated parts are of ruggedisd-grade quality."

See also: Pictures: 15 truly trashed laptops