- FIGURES REVEAL 1 IN 3 DEATHS NOT SCRUTINISED BY FATAL ACCIDENT INQUIRIES
- 3% OF SAFETY COMPLAINTS IN SCOTLAND LEAD TO PROSECUTION OR ENFORCEMENT MEASURES
Scotland’s leading personal injury firm and health and safety campaigners, Thompsons Solicitors, have teamed up with the STUC in calling for a shake-up of the health and safety system to deliver justice and a safety culture in society.
The call comes after reports that reveal only 3% of complaints over health and safety failures ever lead to prosecution or enforcement notice in Scotland and that one in three workplace fatalities are not scrutinised by a Fatal Accident Inquiry. Figures produced by the firm – based on the analysis of its cases - also show that it takes an average of 30 months to set up an FAI.
The report in today’s Herald newspaper also highlights that the number of health and safety cases recommended for prosecution in Scotland fell by almost 50% in two years.
Thompsons and the STUC are calling for the most serious enforcement measures possible to be introduced and improve Health and Safety including:
- An anonymous whistle-blower’s help line.
- An overhaul of the Fatal Accident Inquiry system to reduce delays, better serve families of fatality victims and ensure recommendations are followed.
- Giving workers and their representatives the statutory power to go to Court and obtain their own direct enforcement remedies such as interdict or injunction (stopping an employer from undertaking certain activities that are dangerous) or specific implement (directing an employer to take certain steps).
Partner at Thompsons Solicitors and health and safety campaigner, Patrick McGuire, said:
“A shake-up of the health and safety system is badly needed. We need a health and safety system which secures justice for the victims of fatal accidents, learns lessons from those fatalities and promotes a safety culture in our society.
“Breaching health and safety legislation is a crime but is not treated with the seriousness it deserves. For as long as the perception remains that this is not a “proper crime” that devastates lives, the effectiveness of health and safety legislation will not be maximised.
“Disregarding people’s safety at work or anywhere is a serious offence and it deserves the most serious enforcement measures possible.
“The package of measures we are advocating would make the system work better and ensure that action is taken to secure the safety people deserve.”
Deputy General Secretary of the STUC, Dave Moxham, backed the proposals and urged both the UK and Scottish Governments to take action on the issue:
“These figures reveal that further action is needed by both UK and Scottish Governments to get a strong health and safety system that works effectively for the victims and wider society.
“Watering down health and safety measures is not the answer; there are significant weaknesses, for example with fatal accident inquiries that require action.
“People need to feel empowered by Health and Safety legislation. For that it needs to be on their side.
“Strengthening the powers for people to highlight and get action to bring change to safety procedures is essential for a safer society.”