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The Telegraph's legal expert, Solicitor Advocate Frank Maguire of Thompsons Solicitors believes that human rights legislation is a hugely powerful tool in the fight for workplace safety. This week he explains how human rights laws can impact on your daily life.

Human rights cases and human rights lawyers tend to get a bit of a bad name. But human rights legislation is a real and powerful tool in the sphere of health and safety and the battle to make our workplaces safer.

Under Article 2 of the Convention on Human Rights, everyone's right to life is protected by the law.

In Scotland we have an Act of Parliament called the Fatal Accidents & Sudden Deaths Inquiries (Scotland) Act 1976 which says that a Fatal Accident Inquiry must be held if an employee is fatally injured at work.

There is however a gaping loophole in the law which leads to a situation where those devastated by industrial deaths are being forced to wait up to four years for a criminal prosecution and only then for a decision on whether or not a Fatal Accident Inquiry will be held.

The way to challenge this defect in the law is through the Human Rights Legislation.

I have personally been involved in several challenges in recent years including Judicial Review proceedings being taken against the Scottish Executive for failing to hold an Inquiry into deaths of NHS patients infected with Hepatitis C through blood transfusions.

The principles for work place deaths are the same. The families of those whose lives were destroyed as a result of the Stockline Plastics Factory explosion have already waited over three years for an Inquiry into the disaster.

If an Inquiry is not held or if they have to wait any longer I would say that they have a very strong challenge under the Human Rights Act and I will certainly be there to assist them with their challenge.

So the next time you hear anyone criticising the Human Rights Legislation please remind them of its impact on everyday lives and its role as a powerful weapon to ensure health and safety.

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