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Sister of man killed at work backs culpable homicide reform

Louise Taggart says tougher laws would lead to safer workplaces.

Safety: Call for employers to take more responsibility (file pic).
Safety: Call for employers to take more responsibility (file pic).

The sister of an electrician killed at work has backed a proposal to reform the law around culpable homicide.

Louise Taggart, whose brother Michael Adamson was killed in 2005, says the bill would "serve as deterrent" for employers.

The bill, put forward by Scottish Labour MSP Claire Baker, would seek to create new legal avenues for the families of victims killed by recklessness or gross negligence by their employer.

A consultation on the Bill was launched on Thursday in a speech to the conference for safety charity Scottish Hazards in Glasgow.

Ms Taggart, a trustee of the charity, said: "My wee brother, Michael, died in an entirely preventable electrocution at work.

"His employer company was referred to as 'the invisible man' sitting in the dock and it was that invisible man which was convicted of health and safety offences in relation to his death.

"This provided my family with very little in the way of justice. And our hearts continue to break all too regularly when we hear of the far too many loved ones in Scotland who have left home for work, never to return.

"Those who bear the real burden are those left behind, who currently are left to feel that we have failed our loved ones, because the justice system has failed us.

"As a nation we must be seen to care that far too many people still lose their lives to work-related incidents, put aside party politics and get behind this Bill, which is about justice, prevention and family."

Seventeen people have died on average in industrial incidents each year in Scotland over the last five years but there has not been a prosecution under existing legislation in the last decade.

Ms Baker said: "I very much welcome Louise's support for my Bill to reform Scotland's culpable homicide laws.

"It is simply unacceptable in the 21st century for people to go to their work and not come home to their families due to recklessness or gross negligence by their employer.

"Sadly, the law currently does not provide enough protection for workers and that's why I have launched this Bill to ensure that is brought to an end.

"New legal avenues for prosecution and statutory punishments would send a clear message to employers that health and safety must be the number one priority for any business.

"I hope all political parties in the Scottish Parliament will join with myself and Louise to end the scandal of death and injury at work."

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