Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fast-Track Fines for 'Danger' Firms to Cut Deaths at Work and on Public Transport

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fast-Track Fines for 'Danger' Firms to Cut Deaths at Work and on Public Transport

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK BENHAM

A MAJOR government safety Bill to protect the travelling public and employees at work is to be fast-tracked on to the statute books.

Proposals of huge fines for "dangerous" firms will be brought forward as soon as possible, and directors of negligent companies could have bonuses suspended in an attempt to make health and safety a boardroom-level issue.

Environment Minister Michael Meacher announced the move today at a London construction safety summit to tackle the alarming rise in building site deaths. There were a record 92 between March and December last year, up 60 per cent on 1999.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, arriving to address the conference, was surrounded by 100 builders demanding measures. He promised "urgent action" and said firms must show the way in enforcing safety.

"We will make clear that business must have a corporate responsibility towards health and safety," he said. Referring to the "appalling loss of life and injury" he said the proposed safety Bill will be extended if the new Health and Safety Executive measures fail, adding: "The industry is too dangerous to be allowed to continue in its old ways."

Directors of firms found to be responsible for the deaths of employees or members of the public could face corporate manslaughter charges under separate legislation being considered by the Home Office. The high-profile deaths in rail disasters and the almost 1,000 people to die on building sites over the past decade are spurs for the Government's urgency over health and safety.

One of the many women made widows through building site accidents, Battersea

mother-of-four Jennifer Daly ,told today how her husband Terry, an experienced scaf-folder, died in a fall at work. Mr Daly, 50, plummeted 60 feet from a roof with no railings to prevent his fall. …

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