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PRESS INFORMATION - press enquiries to Sam Dabbs on 07711 672893

DWF505/07
30 April 2007


Official figures just released which show a significant rise in the number of workplace deaths will put pressure on the government to speed up the introduction of corporate manslaughter legislation, says law firm DWF.

Statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive show 124 workers died in the six months to the end of September last year, compared to 212 in all of 2005/6. If the trend were to continue it would put the annual number of fatalities at a five-year high of 248.

Steffan Groch, a health & safety partner at DWF, says: "These latest figures will increase public pressure for employers to be held accountable for deaths at work and for the government to speed up the passage of the Corporate manslaughter and corporate homicide bill through Parliament.

"A new offence of corporate killing would mean senior managers within companies would be investigated personally to see where their failings may have caused or contributed to a death.

New rules recently introduced in the construction industry should help to reduce accidents. The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations, which came in on 6 April, mean that developers and commercial clients now have to assume part of the responsibility for health and safety, whereas previously the obligations fell mainly on contractors.

He says: "Developers will now have to delay the start of a job until proper health and safety procedures are in place and on larger projects will have to employ a specialist health and safety co-ordinator.

"Most construction companies do have proper health and safety systems. It is when these are not followed that accidents happen. Employers should ensure that they understand their obligations under the new rules and that workers stick to the proper procedures, or face growing public outrage and even, in the future, the possibility of a manslaughter charge.

“A further sting in the tail is that at the same time the increased figures for workplace fatalities hit the news, MPs were being asked by Wayne David, Labour MP for Caerphilly, in his Health and Safety [Offences] Bill, to raise the maximum fine that may be awarded in the lower courts from £5000 to £20,000. This would undoubtedly increase the levels of fines for most, if not all health and safety offences.”

ENDS

Notes to editors
DWF is one of the fastest growing regional law firms in the UK and has recently merged with Ricksons. With over 820 people based in Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Preston, DWF provides a range of services grouped under the following practice areas:

Corporate
Banking & Finance
Business Recovery
Litigation
Real Estate
People
Insurance
Wealthcare

DWF has developed extensive sector-specific expertise in a number of areas including: automotive, education, food and resourcing. Further information on DWF is available via www.dwf.co.uk


Media enquiries to:
Sam Dabbs
Dabbs PR & Marketing
T: 01939 210503 or 07711 672893
E: sam@dabbsprm.com

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