MPs fail to support health & safety Bill

A private member’s Bill that would have held directors liable for deaths at work has failed after too few MPs turned up to back it while it was being debated in Parliament.

MP Stephen Hepburn’s Health and Safety (Directors Duties) Bill received its second reading in Parliament during March. While it received all 28 votes cast, it needed 40 votes to proceed.

Health and safety minister Jane Kennedy told MPs that the government had not been able to support the Bill – a move that doomed it to failure. But she stressed the government had not opposed it either.

Earlier, Hepburn had been optimistic of winning government support.

He told Occupational Health’s sister title Personnel Today that Kennedy had been “very supportive in principle” and that he had “a lot of support from all parties”.

The Bill would have 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.

They would have not just faced fines, but the prospect of custodial sentences for directors where serious health and safety breaches or negligence at work results in death.

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