Unions lobby for directors to be accountable for casualties at work

Senior trade unionists will lobby MPs today to promote a private member’s bill that would hold individual directors to account for workplace casualties.

Last week, the Government committed itself to a corporate killing law in the Queen’s speech, but did not specifically include directors’ duties in the framework for the draft bill.

The calls come after the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) reported a rise in deaths at work. The HSE reported 235 fatal injuries to workers in 2003-04, an increase of 4 per cent on the 227 recorded in 2002-03.

Now the Transport and General Workers’ Union (T&G) and the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) have joined forces to press for a tough new law.

The Health & Safety (Directors’ Duties) Bill that they have proposed would place a general duty on all company directors, and for most companies to appoint a director at board level to be responsible for health and safety.

Under the new bill, companies would face not just fines, but also the prospect of custodial sentences for directors where serious health and safety breaches or negligence has resulted in death.

Tony Woodley, T&G general secretary, said: “The law has to support victims of health and safety negligence, not protect the bosses whose recklessness kills.

“Workers are losing their lives, and it is only right that companies are held accountable for safety in the same way they are for financial impropriety.”

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