On Workers Memorial Day, Thompsons Solicitors, the UK's leading personal injury and trade union law firm, is calling on the next government to make an immediate commitment to ending deaths at work by increasing the fines for convictions of corporate manslaughter.

The new Labour government, if elected, must resurrect the draft manslaughter bill without delay and amend it to contain penalties that will force companies to act, Thompsons says.

These must include higher fines for convictions for corporate manslaughter, including fines linked to profitability and a legal duty on directors to comply with health and safety laws.

Thompsons says the draft bill, which fell when the general election was called, is unlikely to have any significant impact on health and safety compliance or on the number of accidents and deaths at work.

Increased resources needed for HSE

The firm also calls for increased resources for the Health and Safety Executive, which currently only investigates around 1,000 workplace accidents a year - just 5.6% of cases.

Yet Britain is becoming an increasingly dangerous place in which to work. In the past five years to 2003/4 there have been 2157 deaths at work. In 2003/4 alone there were 233 fatal injuries to workers, an increase of 4% from the previous year.

The number of reported major injuries to employees was 30,666, up 9% on the previous year.

Mick Antoniw of Thompsons said: "Unless there are more resources for the HSE, no legislation to reduce deaths at work will succeed. And the draft bill as it stands provides only the bare minimum to justify calling it a corporate manslaughter bill. It creates the offence only. It appears to make no pretence at being legislation whose purpose is to provide a comprehensive framework within which deaths and serious injuries at work can be prevented or deterred."

Notes to editors

Thompsons can arrange interviews with families who have lost loved ones in workplace accidents.

A briefing on the draft corporate manslaughter bill is downloadable from this website as a PDF file.