Foreign secretary Jack Straw is trying to block the introduction of legislation that would create an offence of corporate manslaughter, according to leaked reports.
The Guardian newspaper claims to have seen letters from Straw to deputy prime minister John Prescott in which he is alleged to have written that there was “a strong case for maintaining the current position”.
The newspaper reported that the letter also said there should be “collective discussion of this difficult issue before the final decisions are taken. This is one of those issues which when first considered appears unanswerable, but poses serious problems under further examination”.
This week the TUC stepped up its campaign for the introduction of a corporate manslaughter law after statistics showed that three construction workers die at work in the UK every two weeks.
TUC deputy general secretary Frances O’Grady said employers would only change poor health and safety practices if there was a law that could hold them to account for the deaths of staff or members of the public.
Speaking at the start of European Health & Safety Week, she said: “A corporate manslaughter law would force employers to make safety a priority and the fear of penalties would make them train their employees properly.”