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Foreword: Safe or found

Another week goes by and there are more court cases relating to deaths and injuries within the industry.

While employers are to be blamed for some incidences, the fault for other cases lays with the company supplying the waste for disposal.

Is this an isolated case or are workers being exposed to unnecessary risks from outside contractors? If this is the situation then this industry will have to be even more vigilant when receiving waste through their gates.

Awareness of the horrific fatality and injury rate is well known and organisations and associations are working towards reversing the trend. And it is more than just the fines, quite low in recent cases, that impact on the reputation of the business.

Colleagues in the workplace will naturally be affected by any accident but there is also the amount of time taken up with the associated legal implications.

Training and retraining is essential to ensure every member of the workforce is aware of health and safety issues. Preventative measures are crucial to turn this situation around.

More clearly needs to be done, especially as there are plans to change the laws regarding fatalities in the workplace.

The Corporate Manslaughter Bill is currently out to consultation until June 17. Under the draft bill an organisation could be found guilty of corporate manslaughter if the way in which any of its activities are managed or organised by senior managers causes a person's death through a gross breach of duty of care.

The maximum penalty is an unlimited fine and although this is the same as under existing law it is thought the stigma attached to a corporate manslaughter conviction would be greater.

The change is deemed necessary as the current law of corporate manslaughter is seen to be inadequate, particularly when prosecuting larger companies.

The proposed law will not affect provisions in the Health and Safety at Work Act and other associated regulations and when an organisation is convicted of corporate manslaughter additional orders could be imposed requiring plans to be put in place to remedy the situation. Failure to do so could lead to further fines.

In another development there is also talk of introducing an injury cost recovery scheme. Under this scheme the Government proposed recovery NHS costs associated with personal injury cases from employers and the employer liability insurance system.

An implementation date has been postponed to October 2006 but I'm sure there will be plenty of debate on both this system and the draft Corporate Manslaughter Bill over the coming months.

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