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Sinn Féin calls for increased support for families on International Workers Memorial Day

28 April, 2008

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) has welcomed Minister Nigel Dodd's recognition that 'A safe workplace makes economic sense'.

Mitchel McLaughlin said:

"I agree wholeheartedly with Nigel Dodds that 'A safe workplace makes economic sense'. I also believe that the Minister has to do much more.

"Governments have a responsibility to ensure that Health and Safety regulations are robust enough to minimize the possibility of accidents in the workplace and stringently enforced to ensure that employers are held criminally responsible for any breach of the regulations.

"Figures show that almost 200 people have lost their lives here due to accidents in the workplace over the last ten years but relatively few employers have been found guilty of health and safety breaches.

"While I appreciate that not all workplace deaths are a result of employer negligence I am concerned that so few workplace deaths result in employers being found guilty of breaching health and safety guidelines following Heath and Safety Executive Investigations.

"There is also a serious lack of support and help for the families of those whose loved ones are killed at work, and it is a concern that families are not properly kept informed of the progress of any investigation being carried out by the HSE.

"Many of the workplace deaths are concentrated within the construction industry, with the fatal-accident rate for the construction industry worse here than anywhere else on these islands.

"There can be no excuses when it comes to safety in the workplace and clearly we need to do more in terms of reducing workplace deaths through education and training of workers and employers; strong health and safety guidelines; properly resourced enforcement and monitoring and effective deterrents. I would urge the Minister to look seriously at the introduction of a charge of Corporate Manslaughter where employers are found guilty of causing the death of a worker through negligence or breach of Health and Safety Regulations." ENDS

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