Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Deaths at Work Bill Delays Are Attacked

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Deaths at Work Bill Delays Are Attacked

Article excerpt

Byline: By Zoe Hughes

The Government has been attacked for not acting swiftly on the issue of corporate manslaughter just as a North-East MP bids to hold individual directors to account for failing to prevent deaths and injuries at work.

The Home Office was set to unveil its draft Corporate Manslaughter Bill before Christmas but it has now been delayed until spring at the earliest.

It has come as a bitter disappointment to trade unions and the families of victims, who have run long campaigns urging ministers to address the issue once and for all.

A Corporate Manslaughter Bill would introduce a new criminal offence for firms negligent in protecting the health and safety of workers and customers, with campaigners saying it would have helped deal with the aftermath of disasters such as Hillsborough and Hatfield.

Jarrow's Stephen Hepburn, who is introducing his own private Bill on the issue, attacked the delay.

"More than 200 people died last year through work-related accidents, but three-quarters of those deaths could have been prevented," he said.

"The longer this goes on, the more people could die for no reason."

Mr Hepburn has already promised to introduce a Private Members Bill to target negligent company directors who fail to enforce proper health and safety rules at work.

The Directors Duties Bill is set for its first debate when MPs return to the Commons for the New Year, with the Jarrow MP saying it was crucial to ensure all firms adhered to health and safety rules.

"Good companies have nothing to fear from this Bill, all we are wanting to do is create a level playing field on this issue" he said.

"However, there do need to be harsher penalties when it comes to health and safety. Responsibility has to be attached to an individual in a company, otherwise no-one will take action in dealing with problems. …

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