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Workplace tragedies must not be repeated – Ellis

25 April, 2012 - by Dessie Ellis TD

Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis has called on the government to make changes to the laws governing punishments for companies who put their workers lives at risk or fail to protect them adequately. He made his comments in the Dáil to mark International Workers' Memorial Day, an annual event to “remember the dead and fight for the living.”

Deputy Ellis said;

“On this day we must remember all those killed through work but at the same time ensure that such tragedies are not repeated.

“The best way to do this is to ensure better health and safety but also stricter enforcement with higher penalties for breaches of health and safety laws in the workplace.

“Figures for workplace fatalities in the 26 Counties are increasing and it should be worrying for workers and their families, for trade unions, for employers, and for the Government.

“More stringent health and safety regulations are long overdue.

“Sinn Féin has consistently argued the case for the urgent introduction of legislation that will put corporate killing on a statutory footing. When the figures are analysed, one has to ask why such legislation has not been introduced.

“It is not unreasonable to assume that some employers may take a 'cost/benefit' approach to the implementation of health and safety requirements in the workplace. While this may seem a very cynical opinion of companies, it is not without warrant.

“A company responsible for the death of a worker through its own negligence should not be able to argue that any fine imposed is ‘unduly severe’. It hardly acts as an incentive for companies to comply with the inadequate health and safety legislative requirements that currently exist. A system that allows reckless employers to get off scot-free for the death of an employee must not be allowed to continue.

“Possibly prosecution of individuals could be the key to reducing workplace deaths.”

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