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HSE doubts value of law on corporate manslaughter

A SENIOR Health & Safety (HSE) official expressed doubts this week about the effectiveness of government plans to introduce corporate manslaughter legislation.

'I have doubts as to whether corporate manslaughter laws will make a difference to the larger companies, ' said HSE chief inspector of construction Kevin Myers.

He echoed critics who say employers use form filling exercises to demonstrate compliance with the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations (CDM) rather than emphasising safe site practice.

'You have to wonder if, as with CDM, they will just produce reams of paperwork to cover their backsides, ' said Myers.

The Home Office resurrected its plans for a new corporate manslaughter law last month (NCE 22 May).

But the planned legislation is expected to target the companies themselves and not individual directors.

Myers was speaking as the HSE launched a two week national construction safety blitz targeting falls from height.

The blitz is part of a Europewide inspection-led campaign.

Falls from height remain the single biggest cause of death, disability and injury in construction, accounting for 37 deaths and 47% of all construction related deaths last year.

Falls also accounted for 1,425 major injuries, or 30% of the total injuries in the UK last year.

The blitz will see all 130 of the HSE's frontline construction inspectors swoop on up to 5,000 sites across the UK.

It will focus on risk assessments for work at height.

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