Scotland: Fatalities at work double – #iwmd23

New information revealed by the Scottish TUC and Scottish Hazards show those dying as a result of work has reached its highest levels since 2019, prompting urgent calls for reform of corporate homicide legislation.

The STUC, Scotland’s largest trade union body and Scottish Hazards, the national charity for safety at work, published the information today on International Workers’ Memorial Day.

Provisional data from the organisations show that 21 workers died as a result of industrial harm this past year, almost doubling the 2019 total (11). Scottish Hazards believe the number is far higher when encompassing road traffic accidents connected to work, occupational disease and workplace related suicides.

The move has prompted calls from the bodies for the Scottish Government to replace the Corporate Homicide Act (2007), reforming legislation to introduce new statutory offences to hold companies and corporations to account for workplace deaths. Since the Act was introduced, over 300 workers have died, but there have been no prosecutions recorded or justice served for bereaved families.

International Workers’ Memorial Day is the national day of recognition for all those who have died at work. STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer called the data “galling” and called for further protections for those at work.

Commenting, Ms Foyer said:

“It’s incumbent on Scotland’s trade union movement to remember all those who have died at work and pledge to make the workplace safer in their honour.

“It’s unacceptable and frankly galling that the amount of workers in Scotland who have died at work has increased.

“Bosses are ultimately responsible for workers health and safety and they must be held accountable.

“We cannot allow this to pass unchecked and on International Workers’ Memorial Day, the STUC reiterate our call to remember the dead whilst fighting for the living.”

Ian Tasker, Scottish Hazards Chief Executive added

“In January 2021, Humza Yousaf, then Cabinet Secretary for Justice said in a Scottish Parliament debate that he wanted to work with bereaved families to develop culpable homicide proposals that addressed reserved matters.

“Sadly, nothing happened and it was no more than warm words in a debate.

“Scottish Hazards wants corporate killing legislation that is seen as a deterrent. Businesses cannot so wilfully put workers lives at risk. We need a just and proper punishment for those who, through corporate negligence and neglect, put workers’ lives at risk in the workplace.”