Morgan calls for zero tolerance to work related fatalities as Sinn Féin introduces legislation to create offence of Corporate Manslaughter
Sinn Féin Workers Rights spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD today introduced legislation in the Dáil which will create the offence of Corporate Manslaughter in Irish law that will be applicable to a company if they are responsible for the death of a worker in their organisation. If found guilty of the new offences these reckless companies will be liable to severe financial penalties alongside adverse publicity orders, community service orders, and disqualification orders. Deputy Morgan said that the government need to adopt a zero tolerance attitude to work related fatalities. Already this year 23 people have died in their workplaces. This is totally unacceptable.'
Deputy Morgan said, "Sinn Fein will introduce legislation in the Dail today entitled the Corporate Manslaughter Bill 2007. This Bill, if passed will create the offence of Corporate Manslaughter in Irish law and will be applicable to a company if they are responsible for the death of a worker in their organisation. It will also enable a managerial agent of that company to be found guilty of a new offence entitled 'grossly negligent management causing death', where it is found that their negligence was a cause of the death of the worker.
"If passed into law this legislation will have the effect of holding a company to account and if found guilty of the new offences and they will be liable to severe financial penalties, alongside adverse publicity orders, community service orders, and disqualification orders for those individuals that have been found guilty of grossly negligent management causing death. This bill will replace the 'directing mind' aspect of corporate manslaughter that is currently in place in Irish law and the courts will have within their ability the power to hold organisations as well as individuals within those organisations to account.
"This legislation is badly needed. Sinn Fein have asked countless numbers of questions to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment about the introduction of such legislation and each time we have received the same innocuous answer that "at the time of the drafting of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 the Attorney General was of the opinion that there were much broader issues than safety, health and welfare at work which needed to be considered." Sinn Fein has asked MinisterTony Killeen to go on the record and actually state what these "broader issues" are but unsurprisingly he has failed to do so.
"It is quite obvious that the 'Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations' introduced by the government in 2006 do 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 being the most dangerous for workers, and although this is a drop from the 2005 figure of 74 it is still far too high. It is only the beginning of April and already 23 people have died in their workplaces so far this year. This does not bode well for the rest of 2007. The Government must aim for zero work-related fatalities. It is 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 Fein has called on the Government to introduce legislation to provide for the crime of corporate manslaughter. Unfortunately this Government does not take this issue as seriously as we do so we have introduced it ourselves. 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." ENDS