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Sinn Féin call for Workers’ Memorial Day after increase in worker deaths

25 April, 2012 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Speaking in the Dáil today, Cork North Central TD Jonathan O’Brien called on the Government to take measures to improve health and safety measures in the work place given the rise in workplace fatalities between 2011 and 2012, and further called on the Government to introduce Corporate Manslaughter legislation and give formal recognition to Workers’ Memorial Day to remember those who die in the workplace. Deputy O’Brien said: “According to HSA figures correct as of this morning: 216 people have died in the workplace since the beginning of 2008, 48 during 2010 and 54 during 2011. So far this year, 14 people have died in the workplace. This increase is shocking considering the actual decrease in the working population in these years. The figures for workplace fatalities should be decreasing and ideally completely eradicated. “Sinn Féin is calling for the government to introduce corporate manslaughter legislation immediately. For many employers, health and safety in the workplace is an afterthought while the priority is profit-making. This needs to change, and it is well past time that rogue employers are put under pressure to live up to their health and safety obligations. “Deaths of workers is the result of breach of health and safety It should not be the case that a company responsible for the death of a worker through its own negligence can 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. “We are disappointed the government refused today to give a commitment to introduce Corporate Manslaughter and said that current legislation was adequate. While there is a possibility, at present, to prosecute a corporate entity for manslaughter under common law, the Commission has highlighted that the current law of corporate liability for manslaughter does not provide a clear basis for constructing liability. “Possibly prosecution of individuals could be the key to reducing workplace deaths. Sinn Féin published a Corporate Manslaughter Bill in 2007 and called on the then government to endorse it. I am repeating that call again today in light of this workplace fatality. This type of legislation, which is already in place in many countries, is a key tool in the battle to reduce workplace accidents and fatalities. “Workers Memorial Day is on the 28th April and the government should take steps to ensure that those who die in the workplace are remembered by giving official recognition to this day.” ENDS

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