Families put pressure on government to accept directors duties Bill

Families of workers who were killed or injured in a work-related incident have written to Jane Kennedy, minister of state at the Department for Work and Pensions today to urge her to back the Health & Safety (Directors Duties) Bill.

This week Personnel Today revealed that the government has indicated that it will support a private member’s Bill to hold directors liable for deaths at work.

Stephen Hepburn MP, who introduced the Bill, told Personnel Today that minister for work Jane Kennedy was “very supportive in principle”. He said that he had “a lot of support from all parties” and fully expected a successful vote at its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday.

The Health and Safety (Directors Duties) Bill would put a general duty on all company directors and large companies to appoint a director at board level to be responsible for health and safety. Under the Bill, companies would not just face fines, but the prospect of custodial sentences for directors where serious health and safety breaches or negligence at work results in death.

The families writing to MPs have all been bereaved by workplace incidents except one signatory who was left permanently disabled as a result of a workplace incident.

Many of the families were involved in prosecutions as a result of their tragedies. However, where prosecutions did take place, no director was convicted, according to the Transport and General Workers’ Union (T&G).

Tony Woodley, T&G general secretary, said, “MPs have a real opportunity to deliver justice for workers who have been killed or injured at work. Their families are right to ask why no-one is being held to account for their loss. Labour gave its support to directors’ duties eight years ago. Workers and their families should not have to wait a day longer for the law to be reformed.”


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