Unite calls for action on workplace death delays

Published:  25 April, 2017

Friends and families who have lost loved ones to workplace fatalities are having to wait an average of three years and four months to secure justice, according to research by Unite.

Unite has described the figures that show the average time between a workplace death and conviction of 1,234 days as ‘shameful’ and called on all political parties to make a commitment to hold a systemic review, to reduce the length of time between a workplace death and a conviction.

Unite has released the figures in the run up to International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April to highlight the severe delays in achieving justice following a fatal workplace accident. The delays are noted to be far longer than those that occur in a high profile criminal case.

There are concerns that delays in securing a conviction following a workplace fatality could increase due to pressures on the budgets of the public bodies concerned. For example, by 2020 the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) budget is expected to be nearly half of what the organisation received in 2009/10.

In some sectors the delay between a fatality and a conviction are even greater. Last year Labour MP Stephen Hepburn secured a parliamentary answer that revealed that the average time for a conviction following a fatal accident in the construction industry (which has the highest number of UK deaths) was 1,267 days.

In the majority of cases, companies and individuals responsible for a workplace accident simply receive a fine.

Unite acting general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “These figures are distressing. It is terrible to lose a loved one at work but then to have to wait for over three years before those responsible are brought to justice, dramatically increases and prolongs that agony.

“Unite is calling on all political parties to commit to holding a major review following the general election and bring together all the agencies involved in the process to understand why these delays are occurring and then dramatically speed up the process.”

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