Families reflect on the loss of loved ones ahead of International Workers Memorial Day
As they reflect on the loss of their loved ones ahead of International Workers Memorial Day this Friday 28th April, families across the UK are urging the Government to ensure that the Corporate Manslaughter Bill is tough on employers who play fast and loose with their employees’ lives.
Millions of people die worldwide each year as a result of workplace hazards. Most don't die of mystery ailments or tragic unforeseeable accidents. They die because of employer negligence. The global trade union movement wants employers to be accountable for workers' health and safety. Key themes for 2006 are "union workplaces - safer workplaces" and "ban asbestos worldwide”.
According to Thompsons Solicitors, the campaigning trade union law firm, there are over 220 workplace deaths per year in the UK alone. This does not include the many thousands injured, and the tens of thousands who die from asbestos related illnesses.
Mick Antoniw, from Thompsons Solicitors in Cardiff, gave evidence to the Home affairs select committee on the new Corporate Manslaughter bill. He said today: “The days when rogue employers could kill workers through their gross negligence and get away with it are coming to an end. The key challenge now is to get the new law on the statute book as soon as possible.”
A family from Bridgend, South Wales, is attempting to take the Crown Prosecution Service to court following the tragic death of teenager Daniel Dennis, who died in April 2003 when he fell from a roof he had been working on in Cwmbran, South Wales. An inquest into his death held before the Coroner for Gwent returned a unanimous verdict of unlawful killing. Daniel Dennis was just seventeen at the time of his death. It was his first week at work and he had never received any training in working at heights, or in roofing, nor was he ever provided with any safety equipment.
Daniel’s father, Peter Dennis, comments: “I warned them that Daniel had had no training and should not work on the roof. But he did so and fell to his death. Sadly nothing can bring back my son, but if we can help to prevent another tragic death at work it will be well worthwhile. For this reason I would urge the Government to ensure that this Bill is tough and doesn’t let negligent employers off the hook.”
Dawn Williams of Newport lost her husband when he was one of four men thrown from a gantry whilst working on the Avon Bridge. She has added her support for new laws to make it easier to prosecute rogue employers. She comments: “Despite a finding by the inquest jury of unlawful killing in Jeff's case, manslaughter charges could not be brought. The law is inadequate and must be changed to make it easier to prosecute companies that kill workers due to gross negligence."
In the North West also, a number of families are reflecting the deaths of their loved ones. Michael Ian Bradley, aged 59, was employed by Castle Cement. On 3rd November 2005 he was found at work by a colleague pinned up against a shelf area by his forklift truck. Resuscitation was attempted prior to paramedic arrival however Mr Bradley was pronounced dead on arrival at Blackburn Royal Infirmary. The Inquest Jury reached a verdict of accidental death.
His partner of fifteen years Michaela Underwood, a teacher, comments: “Ian was looking forward to his imminent retirement and to spending more quality time with me and the boys, Jack aged 3 and Dale age 17. Ian would have spent more time coaching local youth football teams and watching Dale an apprentice at Burnley Football Club.”
International Workers’ Memorial Day is intended to remember all those killed at or by work, and to resolve to reduce risks and protect people from injury in the workplace.
International Workers’ Memorial Day originated in Canada. 28 April was chosen for International Workers Memorial Day as it is the anniversary of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the USA and also commemorates the day that 28 people were killed in a construction incident in Connecticut. Since 1989 trade unions in the USA, UK, Asia, Europe and Africa have organised events on and around 28 April. IWMD was adopted by the Scottish TUC in 1993, followed by the TUC in 1999.
Events are held on the day to commemorate those who have died whilst at work. The intention is to focus and reflect on workplace illness, injury and death and their causes. Visit - http://www.tuc.org.uk/h_and_s/tuc-11563-f0.cfm
This story was reported by the BBC. Visit 'Call to Tighten Work Death Laws' for further information.
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