Workplace Deaths: Scotland

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 24th July 2019.

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Photo of Hugh Gaffney Hugh Gaffney Labour, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill 4:00 pm, 24th July 2019

Yes, I will always see it as a missed opportunity. I will always support the STUC, which I have known for 30 years and does a fantastic job. I urge the Minister to review the effectiveness of the existing UK corporate homicide law and to reflect on whether there must be changes such as those proposed by Claire Baker in Scotland.

I heard one consistent theme in my discussions with organisations ahead of the debate. There is a feeling that HSE figures do not accurately reflect the number of deaths caused by work-related injuries and diseases. The Hazards campaign believes that the HSE’s figures for work-related deaths do not include workers killed in road traffic incidents or deaths from work-related diseases such as cancer, or those who took their own life because of work-related pressures. It also highlights that the HSE fails to account for work-related ill health such as heart disease and mental health issues. That certainly raises questions about whether the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 and other reporting tools are fit for purpose.

There are clearly issues with under-reporting if the labour force survey estimates that work-related injuries are at least 2.5 times higher than those reported through RIDDOR. The Hazards campaign has also raised concerns that recent changes to RIDDOR have led to a nearly 30% reduction in incidents being reported. There are clearly issues with RIDDOR failing to account fully for work-related deaths and ill health. I urge the Government to review the effectiveness of RIDDOR and other reporting tools currently used by the HSE so that we can ensure that the full scale of work-related deaths and ill health is being accurately reported.

A 70% rise in workplace deaths in Scotland is staggering. There is clearly an issue with health and safety enforcement in some sectors of the Scottish economy. I urge the Government to reflect on the issues I have raised today and to look again at the cuts made to the HOUSE since 2010. I call on them to review the law around corporate homicide to see whether it can be strengthened, and ask them to re-examine the effectiveness of RIDDOR and other reporting tools currently used by the HSE.

International Workers’ Memorial Day is held on 28 April every year. I thank North Lanarkshire Trade Union Council for the work it does at the memorial at Summerlee Industrial Museum in Coatbridge in my constituency every year. The gates at Summerlee are marked with the motto of the North Lanarkshire Trade Union Council:

“The past we inherit, the future we build”.

That makes us remember all those workers who have lost their lives and motivates us to campaign for better health and safety in our workplaces.

The loss of 29 lives last year in workplaces across Scotland should make all of us in this House reflect on the purpose of International Workers’ Memorial Day, which has the slogan:

“To remember the dead and fight for the living.”