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Government still negligent on worker safety following first workplace fatality of 2007 - Morgan

9 January, 2007


Speaking following the first workplace fatality of 2007, Sinn Féin Worker's Rights spokesperson, Arthur Morgan TD demanded that the Government urgently take measures to improve compliance with health and safety law, toughen up penalties and bring forward legislation on Corporate Manslaughter. A 57 year old married man was fatally injured following an accident on a building site in Milford, Co. Donegal yesterday.

The Louth TD said: "This man died while working on a housing development at Forquar, Milford, Co. Donegal when the bucket on a digger became detached and struck him, killing him instantly. This tragedy, which has no doubt devastated his family, must prompt the Government to do more to protect the health and safety of workers.

"It is quite obvious that the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2006 introduced by Minister for Labour Affairs Tony Killeen, designed to reduce the high rates of death in the construction sector, does not go far enough to ensure the protection of workers. Over 7,000 non-fatal work injuries were reported to the Health and Safety Authority in 2006.

"Fifty work-related deaths were reported to the Authority in 2006, with the construction sector again the most dangerous for workers, and although this is a drop from the 2005 figure it is still far too high. The Government must aim for zero work-related fatalities. It is also a matter of grave concern that no employer has served a prison sentence for negligence resulting in the death of a worker and that penalties for work place fatalities vary considerably.

"Sinn Féin is demanding that the Government introduce legislation to provide for the crime of Corporate Manslaughter as recommended by the Law Reform Commission in it's report of October 2005 and we are committed to introducing it ourselves if necessary. Reckless employers must be held criminally liable for workplace accidents and fatalities. Only by putting in place effective deterrents can we ensure that these needless deaths cease. Corporate Manslaughter legislation, already in place in many countries, is a key tool in the battle to reduce workplace accidents and fatalities."

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